Hyperkeratosis simply means thickening of the skin. This thickening occurs as a natural defense mechanism that strengthens the skin in areas of friction or excessive pressure. Abnormal anatomy of the feet, such as hammertoe or other toe deformities, can lead to callus formation as can bony prominences in the feet. Footwear that is too tight or that exerts friction at specific points can also cause skin thickening that leads to calluses. Abnormalities in gait or movement that result in increased pressure to specific areas can also be the cause.
Calluses can be treated with many types of medicated products to breakdown the thickened, dead skin. These products all share the same active ingredient — salicylic acid, an ingredient used for wart-removal. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic, which means it dissolves the protein (keratin) that makes up most of the thick layer of dead skin which often tops it. Salicylic-acid treatments are available in different forms including; applicators, drops, pads, and plasters. Physician formula strengths will be more effective than over-the-counter products. All of these treatments will turn the top of the skin white and allow you to trim or peel away dead tissue. It generally is recommended that salicylic acid not be used by people with diabetes or when there is frail skin or poor circulation (because of concern about how the skin can heal). In these situations, application of salicylic acid can potentially lead to ulcer formation on the skin. Your Podiatrist can help you determine whether salicylic acidbased products are safe for use on your skin.
You should not attempt to cut or shave away corns and calluses at home or at the nail salon. This can lead to potentially dangerous infection of the surrounding tissues. This should only be performed by a podiatrist. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics for any corns or calluses that have become infected. If you notice any calluses on your feet, make an appointment at the Step Alive Center of Excellence to get your feet the proper treatment you need. Our foot and ankle specialist can get your feet feeling soft and beautiful once again. Dr. Vail is a board certified foot surgeon and on staff at the Blanchard Valley Hospital and the Findlay Surgery Center. He can be reached at the Step Alive Center of Excellence: 1725 Western Ave., Findlay, OH. 419-423-1888