Excessive pressure or rubbing can cause calluses to develop on almost any area of skin. Common locations for calluses include the feet, the fingertips, and the palms of the hands.
A person can usually get rid of unwanted calluses at home. While it may take time and patience, regular exfoliation and moisturizing can help.
Refrain from using sharp objects to remove or reduce a callus. Doing this can injure the skin and lead to bleeding and even infection.
In this article, we discuss seven home remedies for calluses. We also offer some tips for prevention and describe when to see a doctor.
1. Epsom salts
Adding Epsom salts to a bath of warm water can help treat calluses.
Epsom salts can help soften calluses in preparation for other treatments, such as manual exfoliation with a pumice stone or foot file.
Try adding a handful of Epsom salts to a bath or basin of warm water, then soaking the affected skin for 10 minutes.
A person can buy Epsom salts from most pharmacies. They are also available to purchase online.
2. Pumice stones
Pumice stones are light, porous stones that many people use to exfoliate dead skin and calluses.
These stones work best after a person has softened the skin. An easy way to do this is to soak the callused area in warm water for 5–10 minutes before using the stone. Adding Epsom salts to the water may improve results.
Once the skin has been softened, use gentle circular or side-to-side motions with the pumice stone to remove dead skin cells. A person may need to exfoliate for several days in a row to get the results they desire.
Pumice stones are available in most drugstores. A person can also shop for them online.
3. Foot files
A foot file is another tool for exfoliation. A file usually has a metal grate and a rubber or plastic handle.
As with pumice stones, it is best to soften the callused skin in warm water before using a file. Many people use foot files while in the bath or shower.
After filing down the callus, using a moisturizer can help keep the skin soft.
Most pharmacies stock foot files and many are available to purchase online.
4. Exfoliating creams
Exfoliating creams can remove dead skin cells.
Instead of manually exfoliating the skin, a person may choose to remove dead skin cells with exfoliating creams or lotions.
Products that work on calluses usually contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, urea, or ammonium lactate.
A person may need to apply these daily to encourage the exfoliation of built-up skin cells. Over time, the skin will soften, and the calluses may become less noticeable.
Many exfoliating creams marketed as callus treatments are available to purchase from drugstores, as well as online.
However, it is important to check the labels first, as these products can contain harsh ingredients that may have a burning effect on the skin. A physician, pharmacist, or podiatrist may be able to recommend a suitable cream or lotion.
5. Baking soda paste
A baking soda paste is an alternative to commercial exfoliating creams.
To prepare one, mix 2 tablespoons of water with enough baking soda to form a paste, then add a few drops of lime juice.
Apply the paste to callused areas, and cover them with socks, gloves, or a gauze bandage. Repeat this application nightly until the callus is gone.
Baking soda is also available to purchase online.
6. Skin-softening creams
Try applying heavy moisturizing creams or petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to callused areas and leaving it on overnight. This can help soften the calluses and prevent the skin from drying out.
Wearing cotton gloves or socks after moisturizing can also help protect the area and lock in moisture while sleeping.
A range of petroleum jelly products are available to purchase online.
7. Protective cushions
Reducing the friction or pressure responsible for the callus can encourage the area to heal naturally.
Callus pads are a type of cushioned bandage that can protect or prevent calluses. They come in a range of sizes and shapes, and many have been designed for the feet.
If the callused area is on a person's hands, wearing protective or padded gloves may also help protect calluses and allow them to heal over time.
A person can purchase callus pads from most pharmacies, as well as online.
When to see a doctor
People with diabetes, particularly those with peripheral neuropathy or peripheral artery disease, should avoid treating their own calluses and consult a doctor or qualified podiatrist. This is because these individuals have a higher risk of skin and nerve injury.
It may be a good idea for anyone with severe or persistent calluses to consider speaking to a doctor or podiatrist.
Washing the feet every day and drying thoroughly can prevent calluses.
Calluses result from excessive pressure or friction on the skin. Taking steps to address the underlying cause can help reduce the chances of calluses returning.
Ways to prevent calluses include:
- washing the feet with soap and water every day, then drying them thoroughly and applying a moisturizing cream
- wearing shoes that fit properly, as overly tight or very high-heeled shoes can increase friction
- using gel pads or foam inserts in the shoes to prevent excess pressure on the skin
- wearing protective gloves when performing activities that can lead to calluses, such as gardening, using tools, lifting heavy objects, or riding a bicycle
Avoid shoes with a tight toe box or that rub against the feet uncomfortably.
Calluses result from excessive friction or pressure on certain areas of the skin. They can be uncomfortable and inconvenient but are rarely a cause for concern.
A number of simple home remedies can help get rid of calluses, including treatments that soften or exfoliate the skin. Preventive measures, such as wearing comfortable shoes and protective gloves, can help reduce the chances of developing calluses.
People with diabetes should avoid treating their own calluses. Anyone with severe or persistent calluses may wish to consult a physician or podiatrist.