Sole Survival … solving your foot problems
Calluses (keratomas or tylomas) can develop on any part of the body and are caused by repeated friction and pressure. These areas of thickened skin do not have distinct borders and are formed to protect the skin and the structures behind it from injury or damage. Musicians, especially those that play stringed instruments and other people who work with their hands often develop calluses that help protect their fingers and palms.
On the feet, calluses typically develop on the plantar surface where there is usually the most pressure and friction from standing and walking. These areas of pressure are usually the sole, heel or on the metatarsal heads where the inner bones of the toes connect to the foot. As calluses thicken, pain may develop from excess pressure against the skin.
Calluses may be painless or may include burning or throbbing. An infected callus may produce a pus-like drainage from the callus, pain, swelling and even fever. This can be treated with antibiotics. Diabetics should seek medical treatment for all foot abnormalities, including calluses.
What are the causes of calluses?
Excessive pressure on a specific area of the foot cause calluses. A few common causes of calluses are wearing high-heeled dress shoes, shoes that are too small, obesity, flat feet, high arched feet, bony prominence’s, abnormalities in the gait cycle (walking motion), and the loss of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot.
What is the treatment of calluses?
Diagnosis is usually based on a physical examination. X-rays help detect abnormalities within the bony structure of the feet that may be the cause of calluses. A biopsy may be ordered where skin cells are removed and examined under a microscope.
Some people try to alleviate pain themselves by cutting or trimming their calluses with a razor blade or knife. This is not the proper way to treat calluses because it is very dangerous and can worsen the condition resulting in unnecessary injuries. People with diabetes should never try this type of treatment.
As corns and callus are symptoms of underlying problems, self treatment should follow a proper diagnosis of the underlying condition and advice on how to best manage it.
Remedies such as corn paint, cure or plasters will generally only treat the symptom of the corn and not the problem that causes it. These chemicals contain acid that are supposed to ‘eat away’ the corn, but the chemical cannot tell what is corn and what is normal – it will eat whatever you put it on. While this can be risky in healthy people, it can be very dangerous and risky in those with poor circulation and/or diabetes. The use of “corn plasters” in those who are at risk or have frail skin are very likely to cause an ulcer (a breakdown of the skin) which could become infected and it the circulation is poor, an amputation is a possibility.
Cutting corns or calluses yourself (bathroom surgery) is not without its dangers, especially if you cut yourself. In the warm and moist environment of enclosed shoes, infection can easily develop into a serious wound.
Self treatment or management of corns and callus includes:
- following the advice of a Podiatrist
- proper fitting of footwear
- proper foot hygiene and the use of emollients to keep the skin in good condition
In this issue of Spavelous “Now You Are In The Know” we will look at:
- Dry Cracked Heel
- Hammer Toes
- Heel Pain
- Ingrown Toenails
- Perspiration Causes Foot Odor
- Swollen Feet
- Toe Deformities
- Foot Warts