A callus is a thickening of the outer layer of the skin, the Epidermis. As with hair and nail tissue callus is comprised almost entirely from the protein Keratin.
The formation of callus occurs mainly due to excessive mechanical stress to the upper layers of the skin i.e. friction, torsion, and compression. Its appearance on the foot is an indication that the area has been exposed excessively to these forces (there are a number of genetic skin diseases such as Icthyosis which cause the formation of callus without the necessity of mechanical stress).
The weight bearing areas, the tops of toes, and the end of the toes, are the most common sites at which callus will develop. For the majority of people callus does not cause discomfort and therefore is removed for aesthetic reasons at the patients’ request.
A Podiatrist will debride (‘cut’ away) the callus with a surgical blade, we would then sand the area with a mechanical sanding disc to leave the area smooth and callus free. This is quite painless and represents one of the most common activities undertaken in Podiatry surgeries.
Where callus is more prominent and in particularly when symptomatic then we would identify the origin of the excessive mechanical stresses and seek to implement a strategy that would reduce such stresses. This could be achieved by any combination of either:- correcting any Biomechanical dysfunction, redistributing pressure, identifying inappropriate footwear, or providing protective covers and shields.