What Are Calluses?

Calluses are thickened, hardened areas of skin that are often located under the foot. They are found in weight-bearing areas, such as the balls of the feet or the heels. Calluses form to provide extra cushioning against areas exposed to repeated friction and pressure. Their formation helps in preventing pain from blisters.

Calluses are a common occurrence and they’re often linked to corns, as they are developed by similar causes. You are most likely to find calluses in bonier or weight-bearing areas, such as your heel, big toe, the ball of your foot, and the side of your feet. 

The most common causes that develop calluses are ill-fitted shoes. Wearing shoes that don’t fit you properly can add pressure on specific foot areas and lead to callus formation. 

While calluses can be harmless, they can sometimes get too thick and cause foot pain, creating difficulty while walking.

Are Corns & Calluses the Same?

Both corns and calluses can develop on bony areas that face repeated friction or irritation. While calluses are hard and thick patches of skin that can be large, corns are smaller and round with a hard centre. You can form hard corns on the top of your foot, soft corns on the side, and seed corns on your toes/foot.


What Are the Symptoms of a Callus?

You’ll be able to identify when you have a callus by its hard, thickened skin. In some cases, calluses can become irritated. 

Common symptoms may include:

  • Hardened areas of skin due to repeated friction or pressure
  • Thickened patches of skin
  • Less sensitivity to the hardened skin than the surrounding areas
  • Pain and irritation in the area of the callus
  • Cracked skin around the callus
  • Difficulty walking



When calluses develop, they’re trying to protect the skin from blisters and pain. In other cases, a callus forms on our feet to help us withstand the weight from our body and the friction from the rubbing inside our shoes. 

Many factors can cause the development of calluses, such as:

  • Wearing poorly fitting shoes that rub against your feet
  • Footwear that adds pressure on parts of the foot, like high-heeled shoes
  • Not wearing socks with footwear
  • Walking barefoot
  • Standing, walking, or running for long periods
  • Occupation or activities that cause a lot of friction on the skin of your feet, like sports


How Are Calluses Diagnosed?

Calluses aren’t hard to diagnose. There are no tests required, as a visual exam by a doctor will suffice if you’re dealing with pain. To determine the cause of your calluses, they may question you about your occupation and what activities you do. Your doctor will check your posture while you walk, as well as your footwear and foot care routine.


How Do I Treat Calluses?

Most calluses don’t warrant medical attention. However, if your callus is causing you pain or discomfort, you should see a Foot Specialist. You should also see a Foot Specialist if you have a foot condition that causes poor circulation for your feet, such as diabetes. 

Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and causes. Calluses are often treated by removing the buildup of skin. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Soak your foot in warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften the callused area.
  • Wet a pumice stone and move it across the hardened layers of the callus to remove dead skin.
  • Don’t file down on the callus too hard, as removing too much skin may lead to bleeding.
  • Use a moisturizer on the callus every day to keep the area soft. Look for products that contain salicylic acid as it softens skin over time. 

Other Options

  • Get custom orthotics to add comfort. 
  • Wear shoes that properly fit and offer room for your toes. 
  • Use protective padding on your calluses to prevent further irritation.
  • Have your calluses safely removed by a foot specialist. 
  • Be mindful when looking at over-the-counter medications to treat your calluses; some products have harsh chemicals that can affect or injure your skin.

Don’t try to remove or shave down your callus by yourself. Schedule an appointment with our foot specialists to treat your calluses effectively and efficiently.

Risk Factors

What Are the Risks?

If you do develop calluses, you should have them treated because:

  • Thick calluses can protrude so much that walking is uncomfortable.
  • Calluses can become infected.
  • They could eventually create foot deformities.


How Do I Prevent Calluses?

There are numerous ways that you can prevent the risk of developing calluses on your feet, such as:

  • Wear shoes that will fit you properly and offer comfortability. Our foot clinic can help you find the perfect proper-fitting shoes that add support and cushioning for your feet.
  • Avoid tight and narrow footwear or high heels. 
  • Wear socks with your footwear. 
  • Avoid walking around barefoot.
  • Moisturize and exfoliate your feet regularly. 
  • Keep your feet clean, wash them with warm soapy water, and use a pumice stone on any calluses that you see forming.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed, as long nails can push against the top of your shoe and cause friction or pressure. 
  • If you have sweaty feet, consider using a foot powder to keep your feet dry.
  • Use cushioned insoles or inserts, as they can even out the weight-bearing pressure under your feet.
  • Get periodic medical pedicures.

Experiencing any issues related to your feet? Consider making an appointment with us or stepping into our clinic today for any of your foot care needs. We have a wide variety of services and products that can aid in supplying maximum comfort for your feet. 



Toronto, ON Chiropodist Academy Foot and Orthotic


Across from the Broadview Subway | Professional Family Foot Care