Calluses, or thickened skin, result from on-going friction or pressure on a particular area of skin. Heel or plantar calluses cause irritation and pain as the thickened skin continues to be exposed to pressure or rub against footwear. Orthotic inserts and properly fitting footwear can prevent and alleviate calluses.
For cases of heel callus resulting from metatarsal bone deformity, surgery may be necessary to correct the bone and lessen the pressure. Less severe calluses can be reduced by soaking the foot in warm, soapy water, then rubbing the skin with a pumice or appropriate foot file; apply a thick moisturizing cream afterward to keep the skin soft. There are over-the-counter callus removers (always check with a doctor before using any medication; some of these treatments can cause chemical burns). Podiatrists also have methods for reducing calluses and treating the pain that can accompany them.
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