Dossier: Home remedies

Get rid of calluses: Three home remedies for soft feet

Thick calluses can cause pain and discomfort and can make people feel ashamed of their feet. It doesn’t have to be that way. Although calluses have a protective function, there are ways to treat them that are kind on your skin.

Author: Julie Freudiger; photo: iStock

Calluses develop from rubbing, irritation and pressure on your skin. They don’t look good and can be fairly painful when cracks (called fissures) form. Common causes include wearing shoes that are too tight, foot deformities, obesity, activities that put pressure on the skin, or simply a predisposition. As the skin on the soles of the feet doesn’t have sebaceous glands, it tends to dry out very quickly, which promotes the formation of calluses. They occur most frequently on your heels, the balls of your feet and your toes. Depending on your job or hobby, calluses can also build up on your hands, knees or elbows. You should never get rid of calluses completely, because they are a product of the skin’s natural protective function. So always leave a thin layer and instead try to smooth it out. It’s simple with these three home remedies:

Footbath with oil or salt

A warm footbath softens the calluses. Add a few drops of essential oil into the warm water. Chamomile oil, for example, is nourishing, while tea tree oil has a regenerative effect. Adding whey powder or cream mixes the oil with the water. Sea salt also softens hard skin. Bathe your feet for around 10 minutes.

Home-made peeling

After the footbath, you can gently treat the calluses with a home-made peeling mixture. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a tablespoon of sea salt, massage the mixture into your feet, then rinse thoroughly. Or mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a little shower gel and a few drops of essential oil. 

Creams and cotton socks

Make sure you moisturise your feet regularly and apply creams containing urea, jojoba oil, shea butter or aloe vera. Moisturise daily for the best results. For an intensive treatment, apply a thick layer of the cream and leave it on overnight under cotton socks. 

Expert tip

Dr Paola Maltagliati-Holzner, a dermatologist with Medgate

“You can avoid getting calluses in the first place by wearing comfortable shoes. However, if hard spots do develop, don’t go at them with scissors or a file as this can quickly lead to injuries. Bacteria can settle in poorly healing wounds and trigger inflammation. It’s a good idea to have deep cracks and inflamed areas treated by a podiatrist. And if these home remedies don’t work, you should seek advice from your family doctor. Calluses may be a symptom of other skin diseases, such as psoriasis, eczema or a fungal skin infection, or an indication of poor posture. Diabetics with calluses on their feet should always consult their diabetes specialist.”

To Medgate