Those spots of hard, thickened skin bothering you? You can definitely learn how to remove calluses naturally (and pretty painlessly) right at home.
Take your cue from Tony Horton: “Solution-minded people don’t see roadblocks as deal-breakers.” There’s nothing stopping you from finding a solution to those unsightly and uncomfortable calluses — you just need a little know-how. Who knows, if you can empower yourself to get rid of your pesky calluses on your own, you just might be inspired to take on bigger and more meaningful acts of self-care.
In this article, you’ll learn how and why calluses form on your hands and feet (your workouts could have something to do with it, especially if you love weight training or working with resistance gear), and some simple home remedies that may help resolve the affected areas and hopefully bring some relief from any discomfort you may be feeling.
However, it must be noted that it’s still always best to consult a doctor and have your calluses examined by a professional, especially if they cause pain or are overly large — you don’t want to be tinkering with something that might not just be thickened skin. Plus, in some cases a little thickened skin might not be a bad thing to have — golfers and rock climbers alike often rely on their hard-earned calluses to protect their hands when they swing clubs and grip their gear.
But if your calluses are a cause for alarm, read on.
What Are Calluses?
Essentially, a callus forms due to repeated pressure or friction on certain spots on your hands and feet. It is said to be your body’s natural response to protect the skin — by forming a patch of hard skin over the sore spot. This hard skin is composed of layers of dead skin cells, which is why a callus may not hurt — though having one (or more) can be bothersome or unsightly.1
Hand Callus Causes
That patch of thick, dry skin on your hands could be a hand callus from constant friction or pressure. Some common causes include:
- Playing a musical instrument that causes repeated friction against your hands or fingers, like a guitar or violin;
- Training in sports or weightlifting, especially if you grip hard or heavy objects often (like metal bars, rubber handles, and balls);
- Working with your hands often, or practicing your trade if you’re a craftsman.2
Foot Callus Causes
Since your feet are weight-bearing, it’s common to have a foot callus or two forming on your big toes, the balls of the feet, and your heels. Other common causes include:
- Going barefoot often;
- Wearing the wrong size or ill-fitting shoes;
- Training in certain sports (such as martial arts) or dance (like ballet);
- Not wearing socks with your shoes;
- Standing for long periods of time;
- Structural or postural problems that put undue pressure on parts of your foot.3
If your hand callus or foot calluses are starting to bother you, you may consider trying to remove them naturally and safely. However, it’s not for everyone.
When To See A Doctor For Your Calluses
Before attempting any home care or DIY methods, examine both your medical history and your hand callus or foot callus. Bring it to a doctor or health professional if:
- You have any pre-existing conditions that deal with blood sugar, circulation, and your cardiovascular health;
- Your callus is causing you severe pain;
- You observe bleeding or any irregular discharge coming from the area or surrounding skin.4
Ready To Remove Your Foot Or Hand Callus? Always Start With Warm Water
Soak your hand or foot in warm water for about 10 minutes to help soften the dead skin you’ll soon try to slough off gently. Depending on how tough the skin is on your foot or hand callus, you may be able to gently peel off a layer of skin after soaking — but don’t force it. Repeat the soaking process over the course of a few days if necessary.5
Consider Epsom Salt, Castor Oil, And Apple Cider Vinegar
You may already have these DIY beauty staples in your medicine cabinet.
- Make your warm water hand or foot soak more effective by adding a couple of tablespoons of epsom salt, a known skin exfoliator and skin-soother.
- Meanwhile, the natural acids in apple cider vinegar (or even lemon juice) may help soften skin, so mix a solution of one part apple cider vinegar to four parts warm water and soak the affected area for 20 minutes before attempting to slough away the callus.
- Alternatively, you can also harness the natural lubricating properties of castor oil in the hopes it can help soften the tough, dry skin. Try soaking your hand or foot in five tablespoons of castor oil mixed into a basin of warm water before gently peeling the skin.6
- Try adding baking soda to a warm water soak. Baking soda is reported to help soften the tough skin, helping make other DIY or natural callus removal strategies more effective. Just add a few tablespoons of baking soda to the warm water before soaking.7
Invest In A Good Pumice Stone Or File
After you’ve amply softened the skin, you should use the right tools to try and remove the layers of dead skin slowly and carefully. A pumice stone might help. Simply rub the pumice stone in circular motions against the callus to slough off the hardened skin. However, make sure to go gently and stop when the area becomes too sensitive.8
Make Sure To Moisturize — Look For Creams With Salicylic Acid
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizing the affected area regularly with a lotion or cream enriched with salicylic acid, an active ingredient that can contribute to the softening of hard skin over time. This may make it easier to remove the callus.9
Protect Your Sore Skin
It isn’t smart to force a hand callus or foot callus removal — you may need several soak sessions, exfoliating of dead skin, and regular moisturizing. As you slowly but surely work on resolving your unsightly calluses, support your efforts by making sure the callus doesn’t build itself up again. Here are some tips.
- Pad your shoes properly with over-the-counter corn and callus inserts or patches.
- Adjust the size and style of shoes that you wear.
- Wear slippers or socks around the home. Don’t go barefoot.
- For a hand callus, wear gloves when doing manual labor or gardening.10
- Keep the area well-moisturized with natural emollients like coconut oil to reduce friction.
Practice Caution — Especially With A Stubborn Callus
If your foot or hand callus doesn’t get any better despite your best efforts, it may be time to see a doctor. Remember, you’re only meant to gently exfoliate softened skin — don’t play amateur surgeon and operate on your hand callus or foot callus by cutting or trimming the skin with unsafe implements. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, you don’t want that derailed because of an infected callus or wound. Leave this kind of callus removal to the pros.
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