Calluses are areas of thickened, hardened skin that develop in response to repeated friction or pressure. They typically occur on the hands and feet, particularly on the palms, fingertips, soles, and heels.
While calluses are usually harmless, they can cause discomfort and affect daily activities.
In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for calluses.
Causes of Calluses
Calluses form as a protective response of the skin to repeated pressure or friction. The primary causes include:
Activities that involve repetitive motions or pressure on certain areas of the skin can lead to callus formation. This can occur from activities such as playing musical instruments, weightlifting, using hand tools, or wearing ill-fitting shoes.
Shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have high heels can cause excessive pressure and rubbing on specific areas of the feet, leading to callus development.
Certain foot or hand deformities, such as bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet, can cause uneven distribution of pressure, increasing the likelihood of callus formation.
Occupations that involve prolonged periods of manual labor, such as construction work or gardening, can contribute to callus development due to repeated pressure and friction on the skin.
Symptoms of Calluses
Calluses typically present as areas of thickened, rough skin. Common symptoms include:
1. Thickened Skin: Calluses appear as patches of hardened, thickened skin that may feel rough or bumpy to the touch.
2. Discoloration: The affected area of the skin may be slightly discolored, ranging from yellowish to grayish.
3. Pain or Discomfort: Depending on the size and location, calluses can cause pain or discomfort, especially when pressure is applied or during activities that aggravate the area.
Diagnosis of Calluses
Calluses are often easily recognizable based on their appearance and location. A healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or podiatrist, can typically diagnose calluses through a visual examination. They may also inquire about the individual’s medical history, activities, footwear choices, and any associated symptoms.
In rare cases where the diagnosis is uncertain, a skin biopsy may be performed to rule out other skin conditions.
Treatment of Calluses
In most cases, calluses do not require medical intervention and can be managed with self-care measures. Treatment options include:
Gently exfoliating the callused skin with a pumice stone or a foot file after soaking the affected area in warm water can help remove dead skin cells and gradually reduce the thickness of the callus.
Applying a moisturizing cream or lotion to the callused area regularly can help soften the skin, making it less prone to cracking or further irritation.
Wearing well-fitting shoes with adequate cushioning and support can help alleviate pressure on the affected areas and prevent callus formation. It is important to avoid shoes that are too tight or have high heels.
Placing non-medicated pads or cushions on the callused area can help reduce pressure and friction, providing relief and preventing further irritation.
In cases where calluses are caused by structural abnormalities or foot deformities, the use of orthotic devices, such as arch supports or shoe inserts, can help redistribute pressure and reduce callus formation.
If self-care measures do not provide relief or the callus becomes painful, a healthcare professional may recommend professional treatment. This can include paring or trimming the callus using sterile instruments, applying salicylic acid-based medications, or corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.
It is important to note that individuals with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease, should exercise caution when managing calluses. In these cases, it is advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional to prevent complications.
In conclusion, calluses are a common skin condition that develop in response to repeated pressure or friction. While generally harmless, they can cause discomfort and impact daily activities.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for calluses can help individuals manage and prevent their formation.
By practising proper foot care, wearing appropriate footwear, and seeking professional intervention when necessary, calluses can be effectively managed, allowing for improved comfort and skin health.
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