Are Calluses Actually Bad for Your Feet? See What Podiatrists Have to Say

Have you noticed a hardening or thickening of your skin underfoot? Wondering what it is? While there is little need to be alarmed, calluses should be kept in check to prevent health issues from developing.

According to the Mayo Clinic, calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop to protect itself against friction and pressure. They typically develop on the feet and toes from friction due to shoes that are too tight, causing the foot to compress, or shoes that are too loose, causing the foot to slide and rub against the shoe. Adding to these issues are today’s popular no-sock look, which can also cause friction between the skin and shoe.

Calluses may be unsightly or even annoying, but that doesn’t mean they’re always bad for your health since they offer protection, according to podiatrist Dr. Johanna Youner, of Park Avenue Podiatry Center in New York. For example, in a healthy person, calluses, especially in the summer when wearing sandals, can help prevent blisters from forming, said Dr. Youner.

According to Dr. Mika Hayashi, a New York-based podiatrist, calluses in healthy individuals can protect an area of the foot from excessive pressure; but if they protrude too much, they can be uncomfortable. “It can feel as if you’re walking on spike shoes used for soccer,” she said.

The remedy? Dr. Hayashi suggests calluses be trimmed back to the skin surface level, thereby restoring the normal contact area between the foot and the ground and decreasing pressure.

New York-based podiatrist Dr. Paul Eckstein said calluses should never be trimmed with a razor blade or knife by patients themselves. Podiatrists, he said, can safely trim them, pad them or prescribe or dispense orthotics to help alleviate or prevent them from developing.

There are, however, instances when calluses can have serious health consequences. Dr. Youner warns, if someone suffers from diabetes, calluses can prevent them from feeling pain and can, thus, lead to health issues. “If you feel pain,” she warns, it is time to see a doctor.

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