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How to Remove Calluses at Home With Ease and Tricks That Keep Feet Smooth All Summer Long

Find out the best ingredient to look for in a foot cream too

Sandal season is here! And with it sometimes comes the unwelcome reveal of dry, rough patches on our hands and feet – otherwise known as calluses. These thickened areas of skin, while a natural response to friction, can leave us feeling less than sandal-ready. Not to worry, though! Smooth soles and soft hands are within reach — you just need to know how to remove calluses. We chatted with a dermatologist and two top nail techs to demystify the science behind calluses, explore the best methods for removing them and discover how to prevent their return so you can confidently embrace summer with touchably soft skin.

What are calluses and what causes them?

“Calluses are those tough, thick patches of skin on your feet, also referred to as a callosity or tyloma,” says Marcela Correa, Founder and CEO of Medi Pedi NYC and licensed medical nail technician. Typically they appear on the hands and feet, especially the heels and knuckles, says Nail Maxx nail tech Linh Ngo.

Calluses can develop as a result of repeated friction, pressure or irritation, commonly forming on the feet and hands, says Hannah Kopelman MD, dermatologist at Kopelman Aesthetic Surgery. “They are the body’s natural response to protect the underlying tissues from damage,” she explains.

“While generally not harmful, calluses can become uncomfortable or unsightly if they grow too thick,” notes Dr. Kopelman. And “when the same spots on your feet get rubbed over and over or pressed on for a long time, it’s normal that the skin gets rough and possibly uncomfortable,” adds Correa.

How to remove calluses

The process is easy enough! Ngo says that “as long as your callus is not too hard or painful, you can work to remove it yourself.” Here’s the step-by-step guide to remove your calluses.

Callus removal step 1: Soak your feet

Correa says to soak your feet in warm water with a little bit of unscented Epsom salt for at least 15 minutes.”This helps soften the hard skin, making it easier to file,” she says. “Epsom salt also holds moisturizing properties to help your feet feel softer.”

Callus removal step 2: Lotion up

Woman applying a lotion to feet, which is one of the steps for how to remove calluses

“Apply a foot cream with at least 20% urea on the rough areas before you start exfoliating,” advises Correa. “Urea helps break down the hard skin, making it safer and easier to remove it. It cuts down your filing time as well.”

Callus removal step 3: Use a foot file

It’s best to use a foot file with disposable exfoliating stickers to gently remove dry skin. “Use one side of the file for each foot to avoid cross contamination,” says Correa. “Make sure to file up and down, not side to side. This follows the natural curves and cracks of your skin, reducing the chances of creating cuts. Do not over-exfoliate to avoid removing the natural ‘grip’ of the skin.” Do this once a week, focusing on the rough spots. Note: “If you work out a lot in the summer, do not overdo the exfoliating,” she says.

How to keep calluses from coming back

Calluses are normal and you can’t get rid of them completely, notes Correa, but regular foot care can help maintain smooth skin. Read on for the two steps that can help.

Step 1: Correa advised to use a foot cream like Gehwol Med Lipidro Cream with moisturizing avocado and urea.

Step 2: Exfoliate your skin once a week with a foot file, says Correa. And Ngo adds that you can also use a pumice weekly to keep calluses from returning.

Another important tip from Dr. Kopelman: “To prevent calluses from returning, wear properly fitting shoes and use protective pads or insoles to reduce friction, and wear gloves when performing tasks that cause pressure or rubbing on the hands.”

See more foot-beautifying tips:

New Pedicure Trend Leaves Out *This* Key Ingredient: Nail Pros Reveal Why That’s a Good Thing

4th of July Pedicure Designs To Look and Feel Patriotic in Star-Spangled Style

The Easy Way to Do an At-Home Pedicure That Pampers Your Feet — For Less

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