How Does a Callus Form?

  1. Definition

    • A callus is an area of skin on the body that has become hard due to constant pressure or rubbing. The callus is formed over time as the skin begins to toughen up to handle the repeated irritation. Because calluses are toughened skin, they have no feeling and do not hurt. Calluses are most commonly found on a person's hands or feet, since those are the areas of the body that get the most use.

    Susceptible Individuals

    • Musicians often get calluses on the parts of their fingers and hands that they repeatedly use to practice their instruments. For example, a harp player would get calluses on the tips of her fingers as she strokes the strings for hours each day. Athletes also form calluses due to their long practices. Runners receive the calluses on the bottoms of their feet because of the pressure they put on them when they run. Ballet dancers and other types of dancers develop calluses on their feet as well. Maids and tile workers get calluses on their knees because of constantly being bent over to do their jobs.


    • A corn is a form of a callus. A corn is a callus that has some layers of dead skin. This dead skin can be removed by purchasing over-the-counter salicylic acid, which is found in wart remover remedies. If this doesn't work, then you will need to see your doctor to have the corns surgically removed.


    • Most calluses are completely harmless. In many cases, they are even helpful. A musician might find that after hours of practice, his fingers are sore. Once the calluses develop, he no longer feels any pain. Calluses can, on rare occasions, cause an infection that would need treatment from a physician. Usually antibiotics are prescribed. Diabetics are the most at risk of complications from a callus. This is because the blood vessels can't get enough blood through the tough skin. If this occurs, the diabetic is at a high risk of losing her foot.


    • The only way to prevent a callus from forming is to decrease the amount of pressure you put on your body parts. For many individuals such as musicians and athletes, this is not possible. Runners and other individuals can buy a good pair of shoes that provides a lot of cushion. There are also shoe inserts you can buy to help distribute your weight evenly so that one part of the foot is not taking all of the pressure.

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  • Photo Credit Quinn Dombrowski

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