Calluses are thickened layers of skin that show up on your feet, usually as a result of repeated friction from poorly-fitting shoes, frequently going barefoot, or frequent friction to a certain area, perhaps from running or cycling. Treating calluses is a fairly simple process and one you can do at home. Before you begin, it’s always best to consult your doctor or a podiatrist so they can rule out other causes of thickened skin like warts and cysts.
While there are many over-the-counter options available, use caution and read the ingredients before you buy. Many non-prescription, liquid corn and callus removers, or medicated pads contain salicylic acid. This can often irritate healthy skin around the offending area and lead to infection or pain.
While avoiding repetitive actions that cause calluses to form in the first place, wearing properly-fitting shoes, and taking other self-care measures will go a long way in preventing the thickening of the skin, if you’re training for a marathon or refuse to give up walking barefoot on the beach (we don’t blame you), there are home do-it-yourself (DIY) soaks that will work wonders.
Vinegar foot soak
Take ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of oil (avocado, olive, or coconut), warm water, and 10 to 15 drops of essential oil if desired. Mix all these together and let your feet soak for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer if you can).
Listerine foot soak
Take 1/3 cup of Listerine mouth wash (mint if you like the smell), 1/3 cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oil if preferred and follow the directions above.
Sea salt foot soak
If you want to keep it really simple, take 1/2 cup of sea salt or table salt and mix with 1/2 cup of baking soda until it forms into a paste. Rub onto the callus and let sit as long as possible. If you want to put it on before bed, wrap your foot with a bandage and let sit overnight.
For all the soaks above, make sure you have a pumice stone, nail file, or pedi wand handy. Remove your feet from the water and, while still wet, take the stone or wand and gently scrub the thickened skin. When you see the loose skin building up, dip it and your foot into the soak. Rinse your foot and the instrument off and start again. If you have really thick calluses, it can take two or three rounds to remove dead skin.
Once the skin is removed and the area is smooth, you can use a moisturizing cream to keep the area soft and help prevent future calluses from appearing. Glytone Ultra Softening Heel Cream from Dermstore is a good option containing glycolic acid and vitamin E, which helps reverse damaged skin on your feet.
Most calluses can be treated at home, and the ingredients in the foot soaks above are readily available around the house and are inexpensive. They are also all-natural, so you know you’re treating your skin with products that won’t irritate or make the problem worse. You can also use these soaks and scrubs to exfoliate the rest of your foot, so they stay summer-ready all year round.
It’s also important to take care of your feet. They bear the brunt of a lot of wear and tear and outdoor elements, and just as you care for your face, you should also invest in healthy feet. Not only will your feet thank you, but anyone looking at them will also, too.
As always, if you notice the symptoms of a callus and feel excessive pain or inflammation, you should see your doctor right away. Some conditions, like diabetes and other diseases that cause poor blood flow, can make calluses a more serious condition and one that needs to be managed by a professional.
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