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How do calluses form and what are the best ways to treat it?

All day, our feet work hard, being rubbed, pressed or squeezed from contact with the floor and our footwear – even when we’re sitting down. Over time, this can cause the skin to become compressed or thickened, dry and hard. A bit of toughness to the feet can be a helpful way for the body to protect itself (you’ll know this if you’ve ever walked barefoot in the park), but when patches of thick, rough and very hard skin – known as calluses – appear, it can cause irritation and look unattractive.

The soles of the feet around the heel and balls are particularly prone to calluses as these are areas that are under the most pressure. Activities that put your feet under even more pressure mean you’re at a higher risk of developing calluses.

If you’ve got calluses, don’t worry – it’s easy to get your feet feeling soft and supple again:

  1. Stop whatever is causing the added strain (if you can!) by investing in a better fitting pair of shoes or throwing out old socks.
  2. Add some extra cushioning to your feet with specialist shoe soles or gel pads.
  3. Regularly soak the feet to soften them and use a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin.
  4. Moisturise regularly with a cream or balm specifically for feet, such as Flexitol Hard Skin and Callus Balm <link>. Try massaging it in for an added circulation boost!

Suffering from cracked heels too? Find out more here.

Here are some of the most common callus culprits:

 

  • Poorly fitting shoes: Footwear that is too tight or too loose, has irritating seams, straps or very hard soles can put extra pressure on the feet. High heels can especially be guilty of this!
  • Socks: Loose socks that bunch down and gather around the foot, socks that are too thick for your shoes, or wearing no socks at all can cause extra rubbing.
  • Barefoot walking or running: Our socks and shoes help cushion our feet with carefully designed inner and outer soles. Without them, our feet are at the mercy of every lump and bump in the road. In the long term, this can harden the feet, and in the short term can increase the risk of injury. .
  • High impact sports: Weightlifting, aerobics, running, jogging or even walking for long distances can cause hard skin to build up through repetitive friction.
  • Age: Wear and tear over time can cause the skin to harden. What’s more, the fatty tissue in the skin decreases with older age, reducing the body’s natural cushioning.
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