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Calluses on Feet – Causes, Signs & Management

Calluses on Feet – Causes, Signs & Management

Calluses on Feet – Causes, Signs & Management

A callus is a broad area of hard and thickened skin that forms when there is regular pressure or friction.1-3 Calluses are part of the skin’s way of protecting itself, they often occur on the palms of the hands (i.e. manual labour or sport) or the feet (i.e. poor-fitting shoes or walking barefoot).2 Calluses differ to corns, in that corns are more defined, have a central core and occur where the pressure is more concentrated.1,3

Calluses can become problematic when they grow so large that they become sources of other troublesome symptoms.1,2

A foot callus can grow to be painful, which can in turn lead to problems with walking and gait, which in turn leads to over-stressing other parts of the body such as the knee, hip, and lower back.4

What Causes Calluses on Your Feet?

When friction and pressure on your feet increase, more skin cells are produced to form a thick, hardened layer on the surface.1 With continued friction and pressure, these areas of thick, hard skin can develop into a callus.1

The friction or pressure that leads to callus formation may come from a number of sources (often combined):1,2

  • Intrinsic factors — bony features of the foot, faulty foot mechanics, or deformities of the foot
  • Extrinsic factors — tight shoes, irregularities in shoes, open footwear, and high levels of activity

Signs of Foot Calluses

A callus is usually large and occurs on the bottom or side of the foot.1,3 A callus may appear yellow or brown in colour5 with undefined edges.1

Foot Callus Management

Because calluses are the result of mechanical stresses on the skin, treatment focuses on determining the mechanical cause of the callusing, providing symptomatic relief, and ongoing treatment.1


As long as the source of pressure or friction remains, the callus will continue to recur.3 To manage calluses, footwear should be low-heeled, have a soft upper portion, and a roomy toe area.1,2 Calluses can sometimes be caused by irregularities in the shoe itself, such a seam rubbing against the skin, so check your shoes to make sure this isn’t the case.1,2

Symptom Relief for Foot Calluses

The standard way to help easing the painful symptoms of calluses is to remove the excess build-up of outer skin, which can provide pain relief.1,2 Recurrence may be prevented by gentle trimming such as with a pumice stone, after soaking the area in warm water.1,2 The Scholl Callus File helps remove hard skin and calluses. It has different abrasive surfaces, and a specially-designed handle to help you reach different areas of the foot.6

Padding Treatments for Foot Calluses

Padding can be used to alleviate the pressure at the site of the callus, helping redistribute forces to allow the skin to heal.1,2 Scholl Callus Removal Pads is designed for callus removal and cushioning relief. The medicated discs allow you to treat the specific problem area while helping to cushion and protect the area.7 For relief from painful calluses and other tender areas, try the Scholl Callus Foam Cushions, with the dual-layer foam helping to provide optimum cushioning relief from painful pressure and rubbing.8

Optimising your general foot health

A simple maintenance routine is the best way of keeping your feet healthy.9,10

  • Daily care: Any podiatrist in Australia can advise on a daily care routine.
  • Footwear: Ensure that your shoes fit properly (both in width and length) and are right for your activity.
  • Appearance: Check the appearance of your feet regularly for any changes.
  • Movement and flexibility: Check that you can move your feet easily, without discomfort; some simple stretches may help.
  • Referral: Speak with your podiatrist if you have any concerns.

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