Our Ballantyne Foot Surgeon Explains Why You Should Never Cut Off Calluses

December 3, 2019

You may be familiar with calluses from your childhood days of swinging on the monkey bars, or perhaps you’ve struggled to build up good calluses while practicing the guitar. However, when there are calluses on your feet, it can be tempting to just cut or shave them off. In today’s post our Ballantyne foot doctor explains why that’s a bad idea, and what you should do instead.

What are Calluses, and What Causes Them?

When an area of your skin is irritated from repeated friction, a blister will usually form as a temporary “bumper” for the tissues. But if the area continues to be irritated, the body creates a callus, or a tough patch of skin without nerves or a blood supply. This natural armor protects your skin—whether it be your knees (for surfers), palms (for weightlifters and gymnasts) or feet (everyone else.) Calluses formed on the feet commonly occur on the heel, big toe and the ball of the foot. Sometimes, they are painless, but in other cases they are accompanied by a sharp or tingling nerve pain or pressure. 

Why Shouldn’t I Cut Off a Callus? 

Cutting off or shaving a callus has two main risks. The first is that you will injure the tissue of your feet by cutting too far down into the skin. The second is that you could sustain an infection. For this reason, cutting calluses is particularly dangerous for patients with diabetes.

Then there’s also the fact that cutting off a callus will do nothing to prevent it from forming again. Calluses are a function of the body’s immune system, and the only way to stop them from forming is to stop whatever is irritating the skin. Yes, you can shave, cut, pumice and chemically peel the hardened skin away—which, again, is painful and risky—but if you continue to wear those uncomfortable stilettos, the callus will form again to protect your skin. 

How to Correctly—and Permanently—Treat a Callus 

As we said above, the correct way to treat a callus is to identify and eliminate the cause. If you have already ruled out footwear, visit a podiatrist to learn if another issue, like bone spurs or hammer toe, is causing the irritation. As a temporary measure, your podiatrist can also safely remove the callus with surgical removal. 

Are Corns the Same as Calluses? 

While calluses can often be good things because they serve a positive, protective function, corns most definitely do not. Corns are a type of callus – caused by a circular rubbing motion – which are cone-shaped and sit on the bones of the toes (or, less commonly, the fingers).  Corns can be extremely painful, because their tips can hit a nerve. In order to treat corns, work with a podiatrist to identify what is causing them, design an orthotic relief plan, and surgically remove them. 

Need Callus Corn Removal Surgery in Ballantyne?

Our Ballantyne foot surgeons will remove your corns or calluses in a safe, sterile environment and help design a treatment plan that will keep them from coming back. To request an appointment in our Ballantyne podiatry clinic, fill out our contact form here