Calluses – hard, thick areas of skin, often on the feet – can be unsightly and uncomfortable. While they’re not generally serious, they can lead to foot pain while you’re walking. This leads to many of us wondering how best to go about callus removal at home. Especially as calluses can make you self-conscious about showing your feet, leading to you avoiding certain shoes, swimming, and the beach.

And we all love the beach.

Some calluses on the feet develop from an improper walking motion, but most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. High-heeled shoes are the worst offenders. They put pressure on the toes and make women four times as likely as men to have foot problems. Other risk factors for developing a corn or callus include foot deformities and wearing shoes or sandals without socks, which leads to friction on the feet.

What Causes Calluses?

Rubbing or pressure can cause either soft corns or plantar calluses. If you or your child develops a callus that has no clear source of pressure, have it looked at by a specialist since it could be a wart or caused by a foreign body, like a splinter, trapped under the skin. 

Feet spend most of their time in a closed, moist environment — ideal for breeding bacteria. Staph infections can start when bacteria enter corns through breaks in the skin and cause the infected corn to release fluid or pus. 

Essentially, calluses form due to the application of pressure or friction on the skin of the hands or feet. This can occur in various situations, such as:

  • Wearing high heels, ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes.
  • Failing to wear socks while wearing shoes.
  • Engaging in activities involving heavy lifting.
  • Playing a musical instrument (more commonly afflicting those who play string instruments and develop calluses on their fingers, however, heavy pedal use – for example, while playing the drums or piano – can cause them on your feet.

Fortunately, calluses are rarely serious and there are things you can do to reduce their appearance. Before you try callus removal at home, a word of caution: if you are afflicted with diabetes, heart disease, or circulation issues, it is advisable not to attempt removing calluses on your own. 

Such conditions can exacerbate foot-related complications, and we recommend consulting a general practitioner or a foot specialist for appropriate care.

If you are going to try callus removal at home, here are our five top tips.

1. Don’t Use Sharp Objects To Remove Calluses

Although it might seem like a quick and easy way of getting rid of calluses, using sharp objects for callus removal at home could lead to bleeding and infection. Medical professionals may reduce a callus with a surgical blade, but this takes precision and training. You should never try to emulate those viral TikTok videos and cut your calluses off yourself.

If you are attempting to reduce a callus at home, use more gentle methods.

2. Tackle The Cause

Most calluses are caused by shoes rubbing against the foot, particularly when the same shoes are worn day after day. There are several ways to stop this from happening. You could get your feet measured professionally – the majority of people don’t do this after childhood and the results can be surprising! Getting a pair of well-fitting shoes will help. You can also try using additional padding in your shoes (particularly if they are heavy and tough, like work boots).

3. Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate

Calluses happen when an area of skin is subjected to constant friction. The natural defence is for the skin to thicken. Exfoliation removes dead skin, reducing the appearance of calluses and allowing the skin to absorb moisturisers and other treatments. One of the best ways to exfoliate calluses is with a pumice stone. First, soak the skin in warm water for around 15 minutes to soften it, then gently rub the callused area in a circular motion with the pumice stone. Don’t use too much pressure – there shouldn’t be any pain. Repeat this for several days in a row.

4. Moisturise Your Skin

When you have exfoliated your callused area, applying a moisturiser will soften the callus and help to avoid future ones. Moisturising hydrates and renews the skin. Try applying a thick layer of moisturiser before you sleep, and rinse it off in the morning.

5. Add Epsom Salts To Your Foot Bath

When you are soaking your feet prior to exfoliation, try adding some epsom salts to the warm (not hot) water. These can help to soften the skin even more, allowing for better removal of dead skin when you use your pumice stone.

#6 Hydration and Nutrition

Proper hydration and nutrition are key to maintaining healthy skin, reducing the risk of calluses. Drinking plenty of water keeps the skin supple, while a diet rich in vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like zinc and magnesium can significantly improve skin health. These nutrients contribute to skin repair and elasticity, making your skin less susceptible to the hardening that leads to calluses.

#7 Proper Footwear for Activities

Selecting the right footwear for different activities is essential. Shoes designed for specific activities can provide the necessary support and cushioning, reducing stress on your feet. For instance, in sports that involve running or walking, shoes with good arch support and shock absorption are vital to

#8 Proper Footwear for Activities

Choosing appropriate footwear for specific activities is crucial. For example, runners should select shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning to reduce the impact on feet. Different activities exert varying pressures on your feet, and using the right shoes can significantly lower the risk of callus formation. Moreover, quality footwear contributes to the overall health of your feet, preventing other common foot problems.

#9 Footwear Rotation

Regularly rotating your footwear is an effective strategy to prevent calluses. Each pair of shoes exerts pressure differently, so changing shoes can help avoid constant pressure on the same areas of your feet. This practice not only helps in callus prevention but also extends the life of your shoes and promotes better foot health.

#10 Regular Foot Inspections

Regularly inspecting your feet is key in preventing and hopefully avoiding the need for callus removal at home, or anywhere else. Pay attention to areas where shoes rub the most or where the skin feels thickened. Early detection means you can take steps to alleviate pressure or friction before a callus fully develops. This habit is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or circulation issues, as they are more susceptible to foot complications.

When Callus Removal At Home Doesn’t Work…

If you have tried these remedies and they haven’t reduced the appearance of your calluses or you experience any pain or bleeding, you should seek help from a podiatrist, who will be able to remove the callus and advise you about any underlying causes.

If you have diabetes or any pre-existing foot conditions, it is recommended that you visit a podiatrist rather than trying any at-home treatments. 

Northwich Foot Clinic is accessible from all over Cheshire and the North West, and our team of experienced podiatrists will be happy to help you. You can book your podiatry appointment online here



How can I safely remove calluses at home?

To safely remove calluses at home, start by soaking your feet in warm water to soften the skin. Then, gently use a pumice stone or foot file to rub away the calluses. Avoid sharp objects and excessive force to prevent injury. Afterward, apply a moisturiser to keep the skin soft.

What causes calluses on feet and toes?

Calluses on feet and toes are typically caused by repeated pressure or friction, often from ill-fitting shoes. They can also develop from activities that put pressure on the feet, like running or walking for long periods.

Are there any natural remedies for callus removal?

Yes, natural remedies include soaking your feet in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salt, using baking soda or apple cider vinegar as a softening agent, and applying natural oils like coconut or tea tree oil for their moisturising properties.

Can I permanently remove calluses on my feet?

While you can reduce calluses and prevent them from becoming problematic, they may reoccur if the source of friction or pressure persists. Regular foot care and wearing properly fitting shoes can help minimise their recurrence.

How do I prevent calluses from forming on my feet?

Prevent calluses by wearing shoes that fit well and provide adequate support. Keep your feet clean and moisturised. Also, consider using protective pads or insoles in areas where friction is common.

Are calluses harmful, and should I be concerned?

Calluses are generally not harmful and are a natural response to pressure. However, if they become painful, excessively thick, or change in colour, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

What’s the best way to treat calluses on big toes?

For calluses on big toes, soak your feet to soften the skin, and then gently file the callus with a pumice stone. Apply a moisturiser afterward. If the callus is painful or very thick, it’s best to seek treatment from a podiatrist.

Can I use a home remedy to treat corns and calluses?

Yes, home remedies like soaking in Epsom salts, using pumice stones, and applying castor oil or aloe vera can be effective. However, for severe corns or if you have conditions like diabetes, professional treatment is recommended.

How often should I exfoliate to remove calluses?

Exfoliate once or twice a week to effectively manage calluses. Over-exfoliating can irritate the skin, so it’s important to find a balance that works for your skin type.

Are there any specialised treatments for callus removal?

Yes, specialised treatments include professional debridement by a podiatrist, prescription-strength exfoliating creams, and custom orthotics to redistribute pressure. For persistent issues, always seek advice from a healthcare professional.

How can I remove calluses from my heels?

To remove calluses from heels, soak your feet to soften the skin, then gently rub the area with a pumice stone or foot file. Apply a thick moisturiser afterward. For persistent or very thick calluses, consider seeing a podiatrist.

What are the best home treatments for foot corns?

Home treatments for foot corns include soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts, gently filing down the corn, and applying moisturisers or over-the-counter corn pads. Avoid cutting corns yourself as this can lead to infections.

Can diabetic individuals safely perform callus removal at home?

Diabetic individuals should exercise caution with home callus removal due to a higher risk of infections and poor healing. It’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for safe callus management.

Is it possible to remove calluses on toes naturally?

Yes, natural methods like soaking feet in warm water, using a pumice stone, and applying natural moisturisers like shea butter can help reduce toe calluses. However, avoid aggressive removal techniques which can cause skin damage.

How do I treat painful calluses on my feet?

For painful calluses, start with gentle methods like soaking and carefully filing the area. If the callus remains painful, consult a podiatrist for professional treatment, which might include padding, orthotics, or medical procedures.

What causes calluses under the foot, and how can I treat them?

Calluses under the foot are often caused by pressure and friction, typically from walking or ill-fitting shoes. Treatment involves soaking feet, gentle exfoliation, proper footwear, and moisturising. Persistent cases should be evaluated by a podiatrist.

Categories: Podiatry