A callus is an area of thickened, hardened skin on the underside of the foot, usually found in the weight-bearing areas (i.e.: the balls of the feet and bottom of the heel). Callus formation is our skin’s way of protecting itself from pain and blisters, by providing extra cushioning in areas exposed to prolonged friction and pressure. They are similar to corns and are formed by the same processes and causes.
Calluses are normal and usually harmless; almost everyone has them to some extent. However, if they get too thick, they can cause pain and make walking difficult. An overgrown callus can also crack, fissure, and get infected.
The most frequent cause of problematic calluses is shoes that don’t fit properly: Ill-fitting shoes put excessive pressure and force on certain parts of the foot. Calluses commonly form at the balls of our feet by the base of the toes, which is responsible for bearing most of our body’s weight.
Calluses typically cover a larger area than a corn, and the thickened skin is evenly distributed through the callus (conversely, the thickened skin in a corn is concentrated in its center). Calluses also usually form on the weight-bearing underside of the foot, whereas corns often form between or on the tops of toes.
A callus looks and feels like a patch of hard, thickened skin. They are rarely painful and vary in size and shape. Most calluses do not cause any symptoms and often go unnoticed.
Signs that a callus may require a foot specialist’s attention are:
Calluses form as part of our skin’s natural defence mechanism to protect itself against blisters and pain. Repetitive or prolonged friction causes the outer layer of skin to thicken. This provides extra cushioning for the skin so that it can withstand the friction and pressure to which it is exposed. For example, gymnasts and weightlifters form calluses on their hands so that they don’t get blisters when they grip and hang from bars.
Similarly, calluses form on our feet to help them withstand the weight of our bodies and friction on the soles of our feet when we walk. They are caused by the rubbing action between our feet and the inside of our shoes (or between our feet and the ground if we’re barefoot). Without calluses, we would get painful blisters on our feet all the time. However, if they get too thick, they can cause problems and complications.
Recurrent calluses and complications can be caused or contributed by:
Most calluses do not require medical attention. However, if you have diabetes or any other condition that causes poor circulation in your feet, you should promptly consult a chiropodist to avoid complications. You can also see a foot specialist if your callus is causing you pain, irritation and discomfort, or affecting your ability to carry out daily activities.
A licensed chiropodist will safely remove your calluses using chemical and/or mechanical therapies. See our Callus and Skin Care Services page for more information about how we can treat your calluses.
If you have recurrent calluses, shoe inserts or custom orthotics may be indicated. These will address any biomechanical abnormalities affecting your gait that may be contributing to your calluses.
Never try to cut or shave away your callus with a sharp object.
To schedule an appointment with our licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists) to treat your calluses, click “Book Appointment” at this top of this page, or call 416-769-FEET(3338).
Our Toronto foot clinic is open Monday-Friday from 9 am-6 pm, Saturdays from 9 am-4 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our Foot clinic.
Certain risk factors may increase your chances of developing calluses:
To prevent or reduce your susceptibility to developing calluses, you can:
Our simple to use, online booking process makes it easy to book an appointment with a chiropodist for any of our services. No referral needed!
Emily is the newest addition to the Feet First family. She assists with the clinic’s accounting and finances, as well as all the behind-the-scenes work that keeps the clinic running smoothly. In addition to her accounting smarts, she brings sunshine and positivity to everyone at Feet First Clinic.
Part of our administrative support staff, Erica also works behind the scenes writing and editing content for our website and blog. She loves researching and writing educational content to help patients and anyone dealing with pain. When she’s not busy in the clinic, you’ll find her at her local gym, exploring underground music, hiking with friends, or cheering on her favourite sports teams (Go Jays!). She also loves huskies!
Day in and out, Bianca works hard to ensure Feet First Clinic runs smoothly. Customer service is at the top of her list and she treats every customer like family. Bianca has a passion for fitness and is dedicated to helping people take care of their feet and body. There is no problem that she can’t solve and she believes that where there is a will, there’s a way.
If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.