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  • Writer's pictureLRPodiatry

Why do we get hard skin on our feet?

There are many reasons why you might develop hard skin on your feet in certain places. Sometimes it can be really painful and other times its totally pain free. When painful callous develops it can stop you from enjoying things you love to do such as walking, sport or wearing a certain pair of shoes. Fear not!! Hard skin is easily treated by a podiatrist.

To understand why you might be getting a build-up of hard skin, it’s good to know what’s happening in the layers of skin in your foot. The skin is formed of 2 distinct parts, the dermis and the epidermis. The epidermis is closer to the surface and formed of 5 layers which consist of skin cells called keratinocytes. Our skin sheds naturally over a course of 28 days in a process known as desquamation. During this process the skin cells move from the 1st and deepest layer of the epidermis to the 5th and most superficial layer when they die and drop off. Build-up of hard skin happens when this process is disrupted, or something prevents it from happening.

When stress is exerted on the skin, it can disrupt this natural process and cause callus. This stress can come from intrinsic factors such as a bony prominence on the foot like a hammer toe or systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis that changes the shape of the feet. Some skin diseases like psoriasis or eczema can be hallmarked by the subset of callous. Infections such as plantar warts (verruca) or fungal infection can also cause hard skin to develop. Very commonly extrinsic factors will play a huge part of callous build up as well. These are things such as ill- fitting footwear, high levels of physical activity or even a particular drug that causes hard skin as a side effect.

What can you do?

Our best advice would be to see a Podiatrist. In clinic we would use a scalpel to gently and painlessly remove any areas of painful callous. If you have callous that isn’t painful, we suggest leaving it be. Painless callous is your foot’s way of protecting itself form the immense pressure it endures from activity.

Some things you can do at home to help reduce hard skin-

1. Moisturise!! Little and often is best, daily is ideal! We use CCS cream in clinic that has 10% urea in, but anything is better than nothing.

2. Asses your footwear. Poorly fitting shoes can make a huge difference, we advise something supportive and not too tight, especially around the toes. A shoe with a fastening like a lace or a buckle is great, avoid slip on shoes!

3. File your feet. Just like moisturising, little and often is best. There are different files that can be used either when the feet are either wet or dry.

If you have any questions about your feet give us a call :)

Lousie x

Image 1 (hard skin) - google search 
Image 2 (layers of the skin) -
Image 3 - Louise using a scalpel - own image

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