Plantar Calluses: What Are They?

By December 3, 2018Foot Doctor, For Client

What’s a Plantar Callus?

A plantar callus is a spot of tough, thickened skin that forms on the bottom of the foot, also known as the plantar side. These calluses specifically form on the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the toes and the ball of the foot. These calluses are uncomfortable but easy to treat. They are also quite common and aren’t a serious concern unless problematic issues arise.


Plantar calluses cause the skin to turn yellowish or grey. The skin will also get hard, rough, dry, and flaky. It might also be painful when pressure is applied directly to the callus. Plantar calluses are large, often covering a lot of the heel or ball of the foot.

What Makes Plantar Calluses Different?

Due to the amount of friction our feet undergo, various foot growths are common. You might not have a plantar callus; it could be a corn or a plantar wart. Corns are small patches of thickened skin with a plug in the center and are typically found on the tops and sides of toes.

Plantar warts are found on the bottom of the foot and look like cauliflower with black pinpoints in the center. These warts may bleed when you walk on them. Plantar warts don’t have engraved grooves and are most painful when side-to-side pressure is applied, as opposed to calluses, which respond more to direct pressure.


Calluses are caused by repeated pressure or friction on a specific area. Hence why they’re so common on feet. Calluses form to protect the skin against this pressure. Excess pressure can be caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes with thin or no socks, as well as high heels. Plantar calluses can also be caused by frequent activity, like running or other athletics. There is also recent evidence that smoking can increase the likelihood of forming calluses, due to smoking causing blood vessels in extremities to constrict. Bone deformities, especially ones that affect a person’s gait, can cause excess pressure on the foot.

When You Should See a Doctor

Plantar calluses, though uncomfortable, aren’t a serious medical problem. However, if you have any of the following additional symptoms, you should see a doctor. These include:

Having Diabetes, Heart Disease, or Circulatory Issues: These conditions increase the risk of the callus becoming infected, which can be especially dangerous for diabetes patients.

The Callus has Fluid or Pus Discharge: This means that the callus is infected or ulcerated and should be treated immediately.

Recurring Calluses: Consult a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon to determine the cause of your recurring calluses.

The Callus is Red, Painful, or Warm: These symptoms indicate an infection.


Usually, plantar calluses can be treated at home. Soak your feet in warm water for around ten minutes and use thick moisturizer or lotion when your skin is dry to soften the skin. After you soften the skin, you can use a pumice stone or metal file to trim down the callus. Wearing shoe pad inserts, or shoes with better support or padding can relieve pressure on the foot.

If home remedies are not effective, consult a doctor to help get rid of your calluses. Doctors use two common methods to remove calluses. The first is to use a scalpel to remove the callused skin. The second method is to apply cream or patches containing 40% salicylic acid to the callus. A doctor might also advise you to wear more supportive footwear or to alter your gait. If bone deformities are causing your calluses, doctors may recommend surgery to fix it.


Plantar calluses are quite common for people of all ages. If it isn’t infected or affecting how you walk, it shouldn’t be a huge concern. And in most cases, home treatments will remove the problem. If you keep getting calluses in the same place, talk to a doctor. If you have diabetes and develop calluses, consult a doctor, as diabetes dulls the foot nerves and can cause problems to go unnoticed.


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