A callous is an accumulation of dead skin cells that thicken at a point of pressure or shear. This callous formation is the body's defensive mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure or friction. This natural protective measure of the body can though eventually cause pain and excessive pressure to the underlying tissue as the callous becomes unusually thick or hard.


Callous are caused by poor fitting, rubbing shoes or heeled footwear which cause high pressure at the ball of the foot. Abnormalities in gait patterns, high arch feet, loss of range of motion in a joint (especially the big toe) or the loss or diminishment of the natural fat pad at the bottom of the foot.

Treatment and Prevention

The best treatment is usually foot orthotics with the goal of reducing the pressure and friction. Abrasive trimming tools are also available but should be used carefully and never by persons with diabetes, poor circulation or neuropathy. When the problem is severe or persists consult your foot doctor.