Calluses (keratomas or tylomas), are areas of thickened skin caused by repeated friction and pressure. They form to protect the skin and the structures beneath it from injury or damage and can develop on any part of the body.

On the feet, calluses usually develop on the sole of the foot, commonly on the heel or at the ball of the foot under the metatarsal heads. This is because these are the areas where a majority of the pressure is taken. If not removed, callus thickens, causing added pressure against the skin and may cause pain. Calluses on the foot can develop into corns.
Calluses may also form through wearing ill-fitting shoes, which cause friction against the skin.

Wearing suitable shoes with correct width and depth, soft soles and lower heels may help to prevent calluses. Whilst the build-up of hard skin on the foot is natural, bony deformities (such as bunions), and an incorrect walking action can all contribute to the formation of calluses.

Signs and symptoms

Calluses are thickened areas of skin usually creamy yellow in colour, without distinct borders. They are similar to corns, however with no central nucleus pressing down on the nerve end. They therefore tend to cause a wider spread burning sensation, rather than the sharp pain associated with corns. Where there is concentrated pressure on the affected area, the top of the callus may take on a shiny veneer and the surrounding skin can appear reddened.


A small amount of callus can be treated at home, with the use of a pumice stone or foot file, however if the callus is painful than professional treatment should be sought. Diabetic persons should consult a registered Chiropodist for all foot abnormalities, including calluses.