What is a callus?

What is a plantar callus? Callus is a term that is used for dry dead thickened skin, that develops in response to prolonged periods of friction or pressure in that area.

Your foot supports a lot of body weight and this is usually distributed uniformly so as to avoid any pathology due to increased pressure.

Lets put it simply…when you stand for long periods of time, naturally, the bottom of your foot is taking your body load. So, increased pressure and this thus makes your body try to adapt to this behavior. So it makes your skin thicker so as to prevent unwanted damage to your internal soft organs.

This is just like a thicker wall more capable of withstanding any damage as compared to a thinner wall.

That’s exactly what your body does. It walls off the excess pressure by thickening your skin. Although a callus can sometimes be good for your body to resist the pressure, it isn’t always as it can cause discomfort. So now we know what a callus is, let’s move to plantar callus and then get to callus treatment.

plantar callus

Plantar callus…

A plantar callus is a callus that comes on the bottom or sole of the feet. A lot of people can confuse a callus for a corn.

To clear the confusion:

Difference between callus and corn:

A callus is a wide area of thickened, dead and dry skin. It isn’t very painful although symptomatic. Doesn’t have a central core.

A corn, on the other hand, is a compact area of thickened dead dry skin with a central hard core and is relatively much more painful as compared to a callus. It has a pricking type of pain and is relatively small.

It is quite obvious that a plantar callus arises due to excess pressure or friction on the bottom of the foot. But what can be the causes of this pressure?

Causes of plantar callus?

Let us look at the conditions and states that put a lot of pressure on the soles

High arched feet:

A high arched foot is more dependant on the ball and heel of the foot for maintaining balance. Hence the heel and ball of the foot being subjected to increased amounts of pressure will eventually develop plantar corns and calluses.

Want to know if you have a high arched foot? Dampen your leg and stand on a surface to see your foot impression and compare it to normal counterparts.

plantar callus

Low-arched feet (flat feet):

Just like a high arched foot can lead to callus formation, a foot that is not arched enough can also have negative impacts on the weight distribution. A flat foot that is not arched enough can also lead to callus formation.

A particular risk factor that can lead to the formation of flat feet is prolonged periods of wearing high heels.

plantar callus

ORTHOTIC INSERTS can be used to redistribute weight in both high arched and low arched feet.


A bunion is a medical condition in which the joint that connects the big toe to the foot is enlarged and protruded. Hence this causes the big toe to be pushed inwards and thus this pushes on the rest of the toes.What has this got to do with plantar callus?

Well, the bunion is an abnormal protrusion. And normal shoes are not manufactured to compensate for this. Hence, this part will be subjected to unwanted friction for increased amounts of time. The result, a plantar callus.

A splint can be used to correct a bunion and sometimes surgery may be the treatment of choice.

plantar callus

Standing for long periods of time:

Besides anatomical abnormalities posing a threat to the development of callus, even normal people can develop it.

Prolonged periods of standing, put the feet on every day encountered stresses and pressures but for a much more prolonged period of time. Thus the body reacts in a similar manner and finally leads to the formation of a callus.

Gait problems:

plantar callus

Gait refers to one’s walking pattern. A normal walking pattern or normal gait usually does not have any ill effects. But, if you develop a callus and feel that your walking pattern puts that point under pressure repeatedly, then it is better to have a gait analysis.

A gait analysis can reveal any other abnormalities in your body for which your gait is compensating. An unstable core (hip or pelvic area), the activity of muscles, potential injuries can all be revealed by a gait analysis.

Other factors:

Suppose you are a person that has none of the above risk factors and yet have fallen victim to a callus. This can be because a certain activity is putting pressure on the particular area where the plantar callus has developed.

Try to identify the activities that you perform in a day. And in certain cases this can also be associated with pain or pressure in that area, helping you to narrow down to the problem. Minimise this activity and look for results to confirm the cause of callus formation.

If all fails then consult a podiatrist, an expert in foot, ankle and lower extremities, to help you locate the cause and find a solution.

Common sites for development of plantar callus:

  1. On the heel of the foot.
  2. On the ball of the foot.
  3. At the base of the big toe.
  4. On the undersurface of a bunion.

Check out this article for quick and easy methods of Treatment of plantar and foot callosities.

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