What Are Calluses? Definition & What Causes Calluses on Feet


The feet ensure mobility, support us and make fashion statements when we elegantly dress them. As this happens, the feet are subjected to pressure which causes calluses. Learn what are calluses, what causes calluses especially what causes calluses on hands and what causes calluses on feet.

What Are Calluses? Definition

More often than not, calluses are found on the feet’s sole. They are a buildup of toughened dead skin that has with time become hard and thick as a result of pressure, friction and irritation subjected to the weight bearing surfaces.

What are calluses
What are calluses?

Some degree of callus formation on the sole of the foot of an active person is normal and generally does not cause any health problems. However, at times, calluses can occur at the periphery of the heels. This can lead to fissuring of the callus which may cause a lot of pain.

What Are Calluses on Feet?

Since calluses are common on the feet, understanding them requires that one be in a position to answer the question: What are calluses on feet? These tend to be an accumulation of dead skin cells which harden and thicken with time. They are formed as the body’s part of the defense mechanism to prevent excess friction and pressure from hurting them. Unless the callus has a nucleation, it is painless. One with a nucleation though can be painful and is sensitive to any pressure.

Foot Callus Pictures

The pictures of foot callus included in this post will help you see and understand what calluses are. These are real pictures that will help you identify if you have calluses on your feet or are suffering from other foot problems such as foot corns or dry feet.

What Causes Calluses?

Having understood what calluses are, it is important to learn what causes calluses? These arise as a result of continuous pressure and friction arising from a number of factors. These include:

Shoes that are ill-fitting:  When one goes for a shoe size that is too tight, they tend to exert pressure on the feet. In case they are a size too big, the foot will frequently slide and rub against the stitches of the shoe.

Failure to wear socks: Socks that do not fit well and failure to wear some have the same effects. When one fails to wear socks, they subject the feet to friction against the surface of the skin. when the socks are too big, they tend to crump up at the end of the shoe. This exerts pressure on the toes which leads to calluses.

Use of hand tools: Calluses that form on the hands may be as a result of pressure experienced while using tools. Things such as hoes, chisels and machetes cause friction as well as exert pressure on the hands as one works with them.

Regardless of their causes, calluses can be prevented. This is possible if one can eliminate or reduce the cause of increased pressure on either the foot or on the hands. This involves wearing the right shoe size, wearing gloves and avoiding standing or walking for too long in heels.

Where one wishes to get rid of calluses for whatever reason, one can look out for products that can clear up the thickened dead skin cells. In case a person has fragile skin, suffers from poor circulation on their feet or suffers from diseases such as diabetes, they should seek medical attention as soon as the calluses appear.

What Causes Calluses on Feet?

When they form on them, what causes calluses on feet is pressure exerted on various parts of the feet. They tend to form on the ball of the feet, beneath the big toe as well as on the heel. These do not form overnight but are as a result of repeated pressure and friction on the same area for a long period of time. This pressure exerted leads to dead skin cells which harden to form a protective layer. Calluses are not contagious. Among some of the things that may cause a buildup of pressure on the feet include:

Heel Callus
Callus on Heels
  • Too much walking, standing, jogging or any other repeated action involving exerting pressure on the feet.
  • Walking barefoot
  • Wearing tight shoes
  • Loose shoes that cause the feet to rub against shoe
  • High heeled shoes that squeeze the front part of the foot.
  • Increased friction from wearing shoes without socks
  • Wearing shoes with a thin sole lead to more pressure on the foot’s ball as one walks than does a shoe with thick soles.
  • Wearing a shoe whose stitch or seam is frequently rubbing against the foot.
  • In case of loose socks, pressure may be build up when it bunches up

Other than the above, another reason that could be attributed to formation of calluses is if someone has prominent toes or some deformity of the feet which makes them susceptible to external pressure.

What Causes Calluses on Hands?

It is common for calluses to form on any part of the skin where pressure is exerted. What causes calluses on hands is the same. Calluses on the hands tend to form at the fingers’ base. They serve as a protective coating and are thus useful. They normally are not painful. Among instances in which the pressure may lead to calluses on hands include:

  • Handling objects that repeatedly exert pressure on the hand such as tennis racquet, hoes, and hammers. Calluses will protect them from the friction and pressure experienced when handling these items.
  • Carpenters who are prone to cuts and scrapes will form calluses to protect them from this.

What Causes Calluses on Heels?

What causes calluses on heels is uneven distribution of one’s weight. This cause the heels to acquire a buildup of dead skin cells which harden with time. The cause for uneven distribution could be wearing high heels, shoes that have thin soles or walking bare foot.  In some instances, the cause could be an abnormality in the skin which leads to a development of callus tissue. In case the callus on the heels grow too thick, they can become painful.