Some people have a little hard skin on their feet, which they will feel is worthwhile removing on occasion. The start of the summer often triggers a frenzy of filing before the sandals come out from the back of the wardrobe once more. Dry cracked heels get treated, the toes get a good scrub down, and the feet get some much needed TLC. These types of treatments are purely cosmetic, but will improve the appearance of the feet no end. Rub in some moisturizer, trim the toenails and your feet will be in tip top shape and fine for showing off in a nice new pair of Birkenstocks.
However for some people, hard callused skin can be more extensive. The balls of the feet can be thick with callused skin, and hard patches of skin on the toes can be extensive, with them being a common site for corns on feet to grow. A little filing down isn't going to cut it and it can be an epic task to remove all that keratin rich rock hard skin. What's more, when corns on feet proliferate and callused skin appears to have taken over much of the feet, simply removing it is no guarantee that it will not return with a vengeance. And it usually does.
Corns on feet form in response to pressure and friction, with callused skin on the soles also forming for the same reasons. That pressure may come from carrying a few extra pounds, either liberally spread around the body, or even from carrying heavy loads at work. Pregnancy too means a considerable weight change, which has to be taken by the feet. No matter how that weight is carried, the feet have to cope with it, and one of the ways the body deals with this excess force is by laying down thickened hard keratin rich skin. This natural process helps to protect the feet from the pressure, and stops friction from wearing down the skin to the lower layers. Were this to happen the feet would become incredibly sore, and the abraded skin would allow parasites, fungi and bacteria to break through the body's defences.
With corns on feet, especially the tops of the toes, it is pressure and friction again which is the common cause. In this case it usually comes from footwear, with the joints of the toes the most likely locations for the hard skin to form. The reason for the abrasion is often the choice of footwear, with shoes that have a short toe box causing the toes to bunch up, bend, and rub against the tops of the shoes. High heeled shoes with an accompanying restrictive toe box can be even worse, with greater forces acting on the toes as the body weight moves from the heel to the balls of the feet and the toes.
When shoes are not the direct cause of corns on feet, it is a structural abnormality which is often the culprit. Genetic abnormalities can leave people predisposed to corns on feet and callused skin, with the trait passed down through the generations. Even a slight abnormally in the feet can seriously change weight distribution, causing pressure hot spots to form and with that comes callused skin, blisters and foot corns. Hammer toes, mallet toes and other toe deformities make corns on feet all the more likely to form, sometimes with accompanying pain as the corns press down an irritate the underlying tissues and nerves.
Getting rid of corns on feet and callused skin may take a little effort with a hard skin file, chemical treatment or paring down of the dead skin, but they will almost certainly return. To banish corns for good, the root cause has to be found and corrected. With footwear it's a no brainer. Swapping high heeled fashionable shoes for crocs or other wide toed shoes can easily do the job, if your sense of fashion will allow it. When it comes to foot abnormalities, bone defects, or toe deformities it is a little more difficult. Custom orthotic shoes and insoles can help considerably as these will correct foot function and help to distribute the body weight properly.
If you have callused skin on your feet, the best bet is to at least initially visit a podiatrist to find out the root causes, so you know where you stand, and how you stand for that matter. You will then have a fighting chance of stopping corns on feet forming, and callused skin will be far easier to prevent.