The Facts on Foot Calluses:

What Are Calluses?

image of callus on bottom of foot

Like corns, a callus happens when there’s a buildup of hard, dead skin over a broad area of pressure or a place where your foot is bony. Calluses are thickened hardened layers of skin that usually develop on the bottom of your foot, under the heel or the ball of foot. Some people can develop a toe callus, usually on the outer side of the big toe. Calluses can vary in size and shape, are usually much larger than corns, and can be painful depending upon where they occur.

Calluses may be painful or merely unsightly, but you know you have one when you notice a large area of thickened skin, especially on the heel, ball of foot, or sides of the foot.


Your outer layer of skin has special skin cells called keratinocytes, which produce calluses. It’s your body’s way of helping to lessen friction or pressure – often on the heel, ball of foot, and the sides of your feet. The friction or pressure could be from your shoes, sports, daily activity or merely from a unique characteristic in the way you walk. Calluses can form anywhere that pressure and friction are increased on your skin, but foot calluses usually form from the rubbing of a shoe or sock.


Unfortunately, it can be more of a challenge to remove a callus than it was to get it in the first place. You may not be able to identify the exact cause because there may be more than one. Sometimes not wearing the shoes you think causes calluses just isn’t enough. There are, however, some things you can try:

  • Wear properly-fitting shoes and rotate your shoe type on a daily basis
  • Take pressure off your callus and it may go away, for example with the right socks and insole padding within your shoes
  • Moisturize your feet daily to help prevent the calluses from forming
  • Calluses tend to build up over time so use a face cloth or other mild skin cleaner to help reduce callus build up and facilitate callus removal.
  • Soaking feet in warm soapy water helps soften the callus, and you can use a pumice stone or callus file to remove thickened skin.

If you are looking for a callus treatment or have foot callus pain, try one of Dr. Scholl’s® products for managing calluses on your feet: callus removers and callus cushions


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