Calluses are pretty commonplace for any avid athlete or really anyone on the go, and they are not a huge health issue, but they can be quite unsightly and they can be uncomfortable sometimes. The good news is that there are ways to prevent them AND means to treat them at home, if you have them!
What are calluses?
They are the bodies defense against constant (or frequent) pressure and friction. The body tends to compact layers of skin cells on areas where there tends to be a lot of pressure/friction so that when it occurs, it is not painful or constantly causing damage (i.e. you will eventually stop getting blisters from a certain pair of shoes because you have either “broken in” your shoes OR your feet!) When they develop, they really are not painful, but they can occur after blisters have formed (which is uncomfortable) and healed. They can be skin toned, grayish/white, or darker in color and either flattened to your skin, just rougher patch of skin, or raised. Some people are more prone to calluses due to a lack of cushioning between bones and skin tissue (especially in the feet). Regular calluses, are nothing to be worried about, but some people can get very a very rare type of cancer that mimics calluses, amelanotic melanoma, so if you have a sudden callus growth that seems irregular and has cropped up suddenly, it is best you get it checked out by your HCP. Also, if you get pain, swelling, a lot of heat/redness, or any draining (like pus) from the area, along with a fever, especially if you have Diabetes.
The best way to prevent calluses is wear shoes that fit, with socks with cushioning. As well, if you tend to get calluses on your hands from working with your hands, wearing properly cushioned and fitting work gloves can hep to prevent that friction and rubbing and prevent the formation of calluses. Also if you have any sort of foot abnormality (like flat feet, any toe amputations, bone protrusions, bunions, etc.) to begin with, you should be under the care of a podiatrist to help and put measures in place to prevent calluses or skin breakdown, like using orthotics or moleskin. Do not try to remove entire calluses by yourself, but you can try some at home treatments, to diminish them.
How can I treat them at home?
You can get medicated pads (usually medicated with salicylic acid that helps to dissolve the thickened skin) at your local pharmacy, and place around the callus to help and decrease pressure on the area.
Change your shoes or gloves that are causing the calluses, find something that fits better
Walk barefoot at home, so your feet can evenly distribute pressure and weight without pressure from shoes. And leave your hands out of gloves as much as possible.
Soak the areas with warm water and Epsom Salts (or essential oils, or with tea bags) to soften the area, and then you can scrape the area with a pumice stone to work down the callus. Complete removal can be painful, and you really shouldn’t scrape it off with a razor blade, as it increases the risk of infection and you run the risk of cutting too low.
Always moisturize the areas after soaking with emollient rich moisturizer such as coca butter, shea butter, or hemp seed oil.
If at home treatments are not working and they are causing you discomfort or you are not sure if it may be more than a callus, talk to your HCP and see if you may, in fact, have some other sort of issue and need further treatments. But try to make sure that shoes and gloves are well-fitting, along with maintaining proper hygiene and always use moisturizer!
Yours in Good Health