Why does a callus under the foot keeps coming back?
Posted: Apr 21, 2022
A callus under the foot can become a painful problem if it becomes too thick and hard. These calluses can be quite a common problem and a foot callus can keep coming back if the reason for that callus is not removed. A callus may develop under any one of the five metatarsal heads in the forefoot or it may be more diffuse and be over multiple metatarsal heads. Sometimes a centralized area of the callus may develop into an even more painful corn. A callus is a natural thickening of the skin in response to too much pressure. Normal body weight should be distributed over all of the metatarsal heads evenly, but if one or more of those metatarsal heads take more weight than another the skin will thicken and harden to protect itself. The problem is that if that pressure continues, the skin will become even thicker and become painful. This thickening is a natural process, and an example is what happens to your hands if you chop a lot of wood. The skin on the hand develops calluses in response to that pressure to protect itself. When you stop chopping wood, those calluses go away. It is the same for a callus or corn on the foot, expect that the pressure does not go way on its own.
Podiatrists are really good and skillful at removing and debriding calluses and relieving the pain that you may be getting from them, but that only solves half the problem. That callus under the foot is going to come back again eventually if whatever is causing that excessive pressure is not removed. There are many reasons for that excessive pressure, and everyone is going to be different. Sometimes there may be a biomechanical issue that means one or more metatarsal is more flexible than the others and it moves up out of the way and exposes other metatarsals to take more weight. If this is the case then foot orthotics can be used to help improve that biomechanics. A hammer toe or something like that will cause more pressure under the foot in the area of the hammer toe, so treatment for that excessive pressure will need to be directed at fixing that hammer toe. There may be a dropped metatarsal head causing more pressure on it. In these cases a foot orthotic or insole with a cavity in it can get the pressure off that area or surgery can be done to lift up that metatarsal head to even out the pressure across all of the metatarsal heads. There are many other possible reasons and different options for each of them.
Calluses, like corns, do not have roots that they grow back from. They are caused by too much pressure. Removing the callus just removes the symptoms for a while and does not address the cause. If you have calluses under your foot that keeps coming back, then please see a podiatrist and talk to them about what your best options are over the long term to manage that.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.