The Best Callus Remover—And Six Other Ways to Deal With Calluses on Your Feet
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The first thing to know about the best callus remover is that you might not need it. Calluses are often hard earned by athletes, laborers, and anyone else using their feet continuously. Some people wear their thick skin proudly. For example, if it’s preventing a blister despite you running 10 miles a day, that’s something to celebrate.
But most people don’t usually want a rough mound of dead skin in the middle of their grip or on the sole of their feet. So you’re trying to reduce a current callus or avoid them in the first place, we’ve got the intel you need, plus our favorite skin-smoothing products, including the best callus remover. (While we’ve got you: have you considered a pedicure?)
How to Remove a Callus
Follow these instructions to steadily wear down a callus until it disappears.
Every night, soak your hand or foot in warm water with epsom salts. This combination will soften the skin (while soothing the foot, hands, muscles, and even skin itself); it will also prepare the skin for other methods of removal, if today is the day you plan to grind down that gnarly thing.
There are a lot of DIY remedies for callus removal. One that we stand by is to combine 3 teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of room-temperature water (or scale up from there if more solution is needed). This will form a paste which you can apply to the callus once it is softened by the warm water and epsom solution in step 1. If you are treating a callus on your foot, then wear a sock and let the solution help exfoliate the callus while you sleep. You can also wear a glove or a bandaid on your hand to protect the dried paste from your bedsheets.
Just like an exfoliating serum helps lift dead skin cells from your face (minus any friction), an exfoliating foot cream can do the same. Get a callus remover cream or gel that contains lactic acid, salicylic acid, and/or urea (uric acid). This product will dissolve dead surface skin cells and break apart the proteins in that area. Depending on the severity of the callus, you may need to apply it nightly to clean, dry feet for a week or more. However, the dead skin will gradually dissolve as you sleep.
Once the callus is softened—and only once it’s softened—you can try a grinding stone on the area to help peel away dead skin cells. Or, when it is still hard, you can try a battery-powered callus grinder that helps sand away dead skin cells. (It is equal parts eerie and fascinating to see your dead skin accumulate like a chalky powder on the device.)
Neither of these tools will finish the task, because they would otherwise tear through the skin at the base of the callus. For this reason, be especially careful if the callus is small and not thick enough to accommodate any tough friction. At this point, you’ll rely more on the softening creams and exfoliating acids to do the trick. However, if you’ve got a real mountain of a callus, these grinders can help break it down fast.
A peel is like a fancy home spa treatment that gives your entire hand or foot a reset, typically by deploying slow-working exfoliating ingredients. Simply soak your extremity in the peel solution as directed, rinse it all away, and in the coming days, any and all dead skin cells on that body part will peel away, revealing fresh, healthy skin cells underneath. It’s an extremely weird but rewarding process as the dead, rough skin steadily falls away and reveals a supremely smooth surface in its wake. (Just wear some socks to bed for the week to follow.)
Sometimes, a callus may be too big, too painful, or too stubborn to tackle at home. In that case, you should visit a board-certified dermatologist or podiatrist to discuss ways to smooth down the area. You should also learn how and why this callus occurred in the first place, and to discuss future prevention.
While you recover from existing calluses, it’s important to wear supportive hand or footwear to prevent additional accumulation. In particular, well-fitting shoe insoles that reduce friction will help fight the buildup of dead cells.
Moving forward, you’ll want to regularly moisturize the skin in this callus-prone area. You can choose a straightforward foot cream or hand cream for daily/nightly use—those nightly applications always work wonders. But consider rotating in an exfoliating option (like those outlined above) every few days in order to keep additional callus formation at bay.
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