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Plantar calluses can be painful and unsightly, making daily activities such as walking difficult and uncomfortable. They can occur for many reasons–some which can benefit from the help of a doctor. Therefore, it is important to understand what causes plantar calluses to occur and how they can be remedied.
A plantar callus is a thickened amount of skin that can develop on the bottom of the foot where your heel bone connects to your toes. The skin forming the callus can be gray or yellowish in appearance, dry, hard, painful and flaky. Plantar calluses can occur due to bone deformities, improperly fitting shoes or slipping socks that place pressure on areas of the feet that are not used to extreme amounts of stress.
To treat a plantar callus, a doctor can trim away the thick skin with a scalpel. He can also dress the callus in a patch that contains 40 percent salicylic acid or apply the solution topically. These types of patches and creams will need to be reapplied daily after removing the dead skin with a metal file or pumice stone. In extreme cases where problematic bone structure is causing plantar calluses, a doctor can perform a surgical procedure to realign the bones in the feet.
There are some over-the-counter patches that can be used to treat plantar calluses; however, you must use caution when not under a doctor’s supervision. Some of these pads are medicated with salicylic acid, which can cause the healthy skin surrounding the callus to become irritated or infected. Always wear socks and cushioned shoes that fit your feet properly. This can minimize irritation of current plantar calluses—and prevent new ones from occurring.
To help a plantar callus disappear more quickly, KidsHealth recommends soaking your feet in warm water. Immediately moisturize the skin of your feet with a thick lotion after drying them to help trap water into the skin. A shoe pad, which can be purchased in a variety of drug stores or grocery stores, can help ease pain and pressure as the callus heals. These pads can be discretely placed in a shoe and cut down to fit many shapes.
Seek the help of a medical provider if you develop numbness in the toes or feet, especially if you have diabetes. In addition, see a doctor if the plantar callus is chronic or is accompanied by drainage, redness, heat or pain. These could be symptoms of an infection. A doctor can remove this unhealthy tissue and prescribe antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading or getting worse.