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Calluses: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About calluses

This is a harmless skin condition characterized by the thickening and hardening of certain areas of skin, especially those which are exposed to repeated friction. Calluses are self limiting, and seldom result in any health concern.

Calluses: Incidence, age and sex

Callus formation is a very common occurrence worldwide and can affect an individual of any age group. However it is more frequently seen in adults with same prevalence in both men and women.

Signs and symptoms of calluses: Diagnosis

The clinical features of calluses include thickened and toughened area of the skin which is typically painless. Calluses can develop in any part of skin but it is most frequently seen in the skin over foot. The ball of foot and heel are the most common areas of affliction. Other areas include the fingers and the palms of the hands. The affected skin becomes coarse and thick.

Causes and prevention of calluses

Calluses formation occurs on skin which is repeatedly exposed to pressure or friction. The skin of such areas has abundant dead cells which causes hardening of the skin and also protect from further friction. Callus formation is most commonly seen in the feet. It may develop in ball of the foot or the heel area either due to constant standing and walking or wearing ill fitting and hard footwear. Inner border of the big toe may also be affected by wearing footwear with hard straps in between big and the second toe. Other structural factors like high arched feet or flat feet may also predispose to this condition. Moreover callus may develop over border of the middle finger in response to persistent writing by pen or pencil. Musicians who play string instruments may show frequent callus formation on their fingertips. Similarly sailors or labourers who make excessive and frictional use of their hands may also be predisposed to callus formation in their palms. Infrequently, infections like syphilis may also result in thickening of the palms and soles.

Calluses: Complications

Calluses are self limiting and harmless in most of the instances. Very rarely, a callus may get infected and show pus collection in it. This may present as painful condition with swelling and redness of skin.

Calluses: Treatment

Callus is mainly a self-limiting skin problem which may show frequent relapses. The treatment consists of keratolytic agents which help to dissolve the thickened part of skin. Supportive measures are also helpful, like soaking the affected hand or feet in warm water to soften the callused skin, followed by rubbing it gently by pumice stone to remove the dead layer of skin. Avoid wearing toe strap footwear if you are prone for callus over foot. Orthotic footwear can also be tried. Individuals who have excessive use of hands may wear protective gloves to protect their skin. Individuals with diabetes are recommended to consult a podiatrist for adequate management of calluses. Medications like antibiotics may be provided if the callus becomes infected.