Callus Foot Pain Guide


Painful Callus underneath the 2nd Metatarsal Phalangeal Joint
Itchy Callus on the Foot



Callus Foot Pain

Itchy calluses on the foor are formations of thick skin on the foot. Many runners or diabetics can even form a callus blister, this is when a blister forms underneath the callus and a blood pocket or an ulcer can form leading to more serious problems. Callus symptoms can be more painful than expected because of this.

Foot Corn(aka Heloma) vs Callus

Callus vs. Wart

  • Skin lines go through a callus, whereas if you have a wart, the skin lines go around the wart. The plantar wart also displays little red “dots” that are blood vessel growth into the wart. The callus should not have any red “dots”.


What Causes Them?

  • Walking barefoot or without socks, poorly stitched or tight shoes.
  • Wearing loose shoes or sandals .
  • High heels that can cause pressure or friction. Accessories can prevent this.
  • High arched feet form calluses under the fifth toe and under the heel.
  • Flat foot is the primary cause of increased pressure in areas of the foot, especially everywhere in the forefoot and inside of the foot and heel.

Treatment of Skin Calluses


Home Prevention

  • Use a Brannock device to measure your proper shoe size
  • Avoid shoe gear pressing the fourth and fifth toes together
  • Gel foot pads between the toes
  • Foam or moleskin pads over the places where corns form- formed like a donut placed over the corn
  • Moisturize your skin with any moisturizing lotions available
  • Thin the thickened skin – See next section


Treatment of Skin Calluses with Salicylic Acid

  • Salicylic acid is usually the chief component for callus treatment – It is a “keratolytic” that breaks down the protein keratin that makes up corns & calluses
  • These products are usually gentle and safe for most people if used as indicated:
  • They come in applicators, drops, pads & plasters
  • They turn the skin white and allow you to trim or peel away dead tissue, making the corn protrude and hurt less
  • The corn can then be gently scrapped out if it is showing – Never use something sharp at home!
  • Be careful with frail skin – especially if a diabetic or with peripheral vascular disease- always see a podiatrist before using these


Home Treatment 

  • Soak your feet! It is very easy to soak your feet and then grind away the skin with a pumice stone or an emery board. Soak your feet for atleast 10-20 minutes. It is possible to add boric acid, bran & Iodine to improve the results. WATCH VIDEO
  • The above point can be supplemented by applying salicylic acid to your skin callus after soaking. Salicylic acid can be purchased in 40% pads or a 17% solution that can be applied with a Q-tip. The Mayo Clinic says to be careful to check for irritation when putting these on. Try salicylic acid at night for a few nights to see if it decreases callus formation. I personally do not think that this is a great method.
  • Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter or Lotions + Socks  is also very good for calluses. Apply the agent of choice to the calluses when you go to bed at night and over a few days the calluses should start to decrease and the socks should keep your sheets clean.
  • Use an emery board or a pumice stone can then be used to remove the callus for faster results.
  • Use Antibiotic cream if you break the skin bearer at all
  • Use gel pads for calluses between the toes. A band-aid can work but there are fantastic products such as gel pads that will make your pain disappear and you won’t even know that they are there. Jill’s foot pads are available at most pharmacies and are very cheap.
  • Vasoline or petroleum jelly applied to the skin can help reduce friction and will also soften the callus for when it comes time to grind it away.
  • Wearing socks if you were not previously using them can be fantastic. The best socks for summer are synthetic socks and the best socks for winter may be wool socks, these decrease friction and prevent callus formation. Combine this method with the vasoline or petroleum jelly method above to greatly decrease friction.
  • Note: These can all be temporary methods, seeing a podiatrist to correct the deformity may be the only way to get permanent results.

When to see a podiatrist

  • Get a bio-mechanical exam to determine why the corn continues to appear
  • If the corn & callus is removed and the pain is still there for a long time means that you likely have a deformity in that area and it may need to be surgically corrected
  • All of the above methods are only temporary treatments. Skin calluses are usually due to a deformity that would need to be corrected.