A callus is the formation of thick layers of hardened skin that can appear anywhere on the body. These layers protect the skin from constant friction or pressure and form over a period of time.
Calluses are not restricted to the foot and it is common to find them anywhere excessive and repetitive force is generated such as the knuckles or the palm of the hand. Repeated pressure and friction on the bottom of the foot are considered common causes of calluses. These lead to hyperkeratosis, which is thickening of dead skin cells that protect soft tissues under the skin.
Calluses do not have definite borders and are often observed as regions of hard growth. Their appearance causes the affected skin to look yellow, brown or white. Some calluses can be painful after developing a painful inner core called nucleation.
A callus can develop because of internal or external factors. Internal factors could arise from excessive pressure on the foot caused by weak foot posture.
With a weak foot posture, there is an uneven distribution of pressure in the feet which produces excess stress on the ball of the foot, heel and toes. This excessive pressure, especially on the ball of the foot and big toe joint leads to callus formation in these regions.
Foot problems such as bunions and hammertoes can also arise from a weak foot posture. Such foot deformities ultimately increase friction between the skin and the surface of the shoes, leading to further hardening of the skin over time.
Common external factors that may cause calluses to form include prolonged walking, tight-fitting shoes and activities that repeatedly exert pressure on at-risk parts of the feet. Although a callus rarely poses a health risk, patients suffering from diabetes may develop serious complications because of them.
Diagnosing a callus involves an initial assessment of the affected area to check for a bony presence. X-ray may be required to diagnose the bony growth.
The individual’s walking stride can also be examined to identify any abnormal movement patterns and provide appropriate treatment.
Topical medications with 40% salicylic acid can be prescribed to dissolve the thickened skin. A health care professional may cut the callus to reduce thickened tissues and even out the skin surface. Comfortable footwear should be worn by patients at all times to minimise friction from external sources.
Foot posture problems, such as flat feet, can be treated with MASS4D® foot insoles. By improving weight distribution to the feet and reducing excess pressure, MASS4D® helps support normal foot function and reduce callus formation.
MASS4D® insoles support the feet in their optimal posture to promote healthy alignment of the knees, hips and low back. These help improve walking stride of the individual which further reduces frictional rubbing that can cause calluses.
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Reference: Dr. Lyle J. Micheli. Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine. California: SAGE Publications; 2010.
Reference: Denise B. Freeman (2002) Corns and Calluses Resulting from Mechanical Hyperkeratosis. American Family Physician: June 2002, Vol. 65, No. 11, pp. 2277-2280.
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