Calluses Treatment

In most cases, calluses can be successfully treated using self-help practices and orthotics. Pain, which is caused by pressure against the nerves and blood vessels between the callus and the foot bones, usually does not occur when at rest. Metatarsal pads, soft insole inserts, and modifying standing areas with a soft surface (e.g., a rubber floor mat) may relieve the discomfort of tender calluses.

Custom-moldedarch supports (called orthotics) or over-the-counter arch supports may help if flatfeet contribute to the problem. Orthotics can provide the proper support and alignment necessary to help prevent calluses. If one of the metatarsals is too low, an orthotic cutout can equalize pressure on the ball of the foot.

Because the thickness of the callus causes pressure, reducing the overgrown tissue by soaking the feet in warm water and filing down the callus with a pumice stone to smooth down the thick tissue may be helpful.

In severe cases, podiatrists may use a device called a sterile surgical blade to remove the outer layers of thickened skin. Surgical treatment is complex and results can be unpredictable; therefore, most podiatrists perform surgery only in severe cases when self-help and orthotics have failed.

In some cases, one of the metatarsals may be too low or too poorly positioned for orthotics to work. In these cases, surgery can raise the metatarsal to the correct height to distribute the body's weight and pressure more evenly. This involves cutting the metatarsal bone to adjust the length or angle. The recovery time for this procedure is 6 to 8 weeks and during this time, a removeable walking cast boot can be used to facilitate mobility.

When a metatarsal bone is surgically altered, excessive stress may be transferred to the other metatarsals, resulting in a transfer callus on other areas of the bottom of the foot.

Preventing Calluses

In most cases, calluses on the feet can be prevented by wearing shoes and socks that fit properly and by using lotion to keep the feet moisturized. People with biomechanical foot problems should see a podiatrist for recommended treatment (e.g., arch supports or orthotics).

Publication Review By: Steven L. Rosenberg, D.P.M., John J. Swierzewski, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015