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Calluses: Why we get them, how to get rid of them

Dry, hard calluses on the feet occur year round, but they are especially common during warmer months. Jocelyn Curry, DPM, a podiatrist at Piedmont, explains what causes calluses and how to treat them at home.

What causes calluses?

The number one culprit is sandals. Open-toed shoes and flip flops allow the feet to slide around, creating friction that leads to dead skin buildup. In addition to sandals, high heels and other shoes that put pressure on your feet can lead to roughness.

"Calluses build up as a way for the body to protect itself," says Dr. Curry. "Bones in the feet may get more pressure than the body would like, so it builds up calluses to protect itself."

How to get rid of calluses

Say sayonara to calluses with Dr. Curry's at-home tips:

1. Exfoliate. Buff your feet with a wet pumice stone coated in body wash or use one of the popular egg-shaped foot buffers on dry feet. A word of caution, though: Don't overdo it or your body could build up calluses even faster for protection. "Be careful about removing too much skin from the heels," she says. "The goal isn't to have baby-soft feet."

2. Moisturize. Look for foot cream that contains urea or lactic acid, which serve as chemical exfoliators, and slather it on morning and night. "Skin is our body's largest organ and is a natural barrier to keep out pathogens," says Dr. Curry. "Dry heels can crack, which opens the floodgates for anything to come in."

Specialized foot care

If you have diabetes or neuropathy (nerve damage) in your feet, be mindful of sharp objects like foot files, especially motorized varieties. If the nerves in your feet aren't working properly, you risk exfoliating the feet too deeply. If you want to use a foot file or other pedicure tool, bring it with you to your next appointment to get your physician's okay. 

For more ways to keep you feet in great shape, click here.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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