When we hear the term “skin care,” or even the word “skin,”—our minds most likely visualize the skin on our faces and our facial regimens. The skin on our chests, arms and legs, may be close seconds (especially in the summertime). But how many of us think about the skin on our feet? What body part would you guess gets neglected the most in the shower?
Not only is the skin on our feet a lot tougher, it also has a stronger tendency to become dry, cracked and infected. Fortunately, a lot of foot problems are simply due to lack of proper care (making it an easy fix), but could also lead to one of the toughest causes for concern: calluses. If you’re looking for an alternative to frequent pedicures, we’ve caught up with Dr. Ingrid P. Warmuth, MD and Lauren Hartman, PA-C, experts from the Warmuth Institute of Dermatology, to give us some insight on calluses and how to treat them on our feet.*
What Are Calluses?
According to Dr. Warmuth, a callus is an area of hard or thickened skin where it is usually subjected to constant friction. The heels and feet make up the two most common areas, and they can also be found on the hands.
Our skin’s defense mechanism to extreme pressure is to thicken (or strengthen). Calluses, in turn, can actually end up being more painful if not prevented and/or corrected properly. Calluses on our feet can be the result of many issues such as damaging footwear (work boots, high heels, shoes that are too small, etc.), repetitive activity (any area of fitness, particularly running, jumping, ballet, etc.) or simply uncleanliness.
How to Treat a Callus at Home
Warmuth and Hartman suggest some easy at-home treatments that can easily prevent future calluses from occurring while reversing the effects of existing ones. We’ve included their recommended treatment with some of our own recommended products:
1. Soak the callus in warm water
Before bed, Warmuth and Hartman suggest soaking your calluses (or relaxing in a full-body bath) until the skin on your heels softens (about five or ten minutes). Dermstore suggests following this with a softening treatment like the Original Deep Skin Exfoliation for Feet by Baby Foot. Tackling one of the most common reasons for the development of calluses, this treatment provides special “socks,” to defeat dehydration and dry skin. These socks are made to slip easily onto your feet, “soaking” the calluses while you sleep. These socks work to slough off hardened, dead skin with glycolic, malic and lactic acids.
2. File to remove some of the harder layers
Warmuth and Hartman recommend using a pumice stone to file your calluses, removing some of the harder, thicker layers of skin. They do warn against over-filing, however, which can lead to bleeding and infection. Be gentle with the stone, and be sure to stop if you start to feel irritation or pain.
3. Apply moisturizing cream or lotion daily
To help soften existing calluses and prevent future ones, our experts suggest using a moisturizing cream or lotion on the affected areas daily. Dermstore recommends Glytone Ultra Softening Heel and Elbow Cream. This powerful lotion works to hydrate and renew the skin on the feet and elbows. Glycolic acid combined with vitamin E gently exfoliates and revives the damaged skin on your feet.
4. Use additional padding in your shoes
Whether you choose thicker socks or shoe insoles, a little extra padding can go a long way when it comes to preventing calluses on your heels. The extra padding cushions your feet and lessens the amount of friction your feet endure from your everyday walking.
5. Exfoliate the bottoms of your feet
Exfoliating is so important, as it removes dead skin cells and allows your skin to better absorb moisturizers, lotions and other treatments. Dermstore suggests the Dermalect Runway Ready Luxury Foot Treatment. This exfoliating treatment doubles as a hydrating moisturizer for your feet, and uses a combination of alpha hydroxy acids to slough away dead skin cells that are likely to harden into a callus.
6. Look for products with salicylic acid
Warmuth and Hartman tell us that salicylic acid is an effective treatment against calluses. Look for moisturizers, cleansers or treatments containing this gentle exfoliant. We recommend Patchology’s PoshPeel PediCure. Another fancy exfoliating sock, this brand utilizes the power of salicylic acid to calm and reduce irritating calluses while rehydrating your feet for softer, clearer skin.
*Patients with underlying conditions that may have a potential impact on the skin, such as diabetes, should see a doctor before attempting to perform any of the aforementioned treatments.