If you’re like me, then you’ve spent hours of your life trying to buff away those awful calluses and corns that just always seem to grow back. No matter how good you are at maintaining your daily pumice stone and foot moisturization ritual, which is a common way to improve the look of calluses and corns on toes, heels, balls of the feet, and other areas — it doesn’t necessarily prevent them from developing over and over again.
The only way to prevent corns and calluses from developing is by reducing (or eliminating, if possible) the excess pressure and friction on the areas of the feet where they show up. If you don’t, you can expect to continue to pay for it in the time and money you have to spend going around in circles treating them day after day, week after week, as they continue to grow back.
So if you’re serious about breaking the cycle, here are five actions you can take to stop those pesky calluses and corns from developing in the first place.
1. Get your feet professionally measured and fitted for shoes.
Too many people overlook the option to get their feet properly measured for shoes that fit right. And as women, we’re often known to sacrifice comfort entirely for style.
Both length and width should be taken into consideration, even if one foot’s measurement is larger than the other. You should aim to allow up to half an inch of space between your big toe (or your longest toe) and the shoe.
Being able to wiggle your toes around freely without any restriction is a good sign that your shoes fit. Some shoe stores are able to stretch your shoes out in any areas that feel like they’re rubbing or pinching you.
2. Avoid wearing shoes with very pointed toes or high heels.
Well, ladies, I hate to say it, but you have a choice to make here. (And guys, some of you will too.) Are you willing to suffer through the discomfort and unpleasant look of your feet for the sake of looking fashionable? Because if you do suffer from the repeated development of calluses or corns, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to accomplish both.
Serious prevention means saying no to wearing any shoes that squeeze your toes into a point, or heels that hoist you up. Only you know your situation best, so it’s possible you may be able to get away with some styles — but again, keep in mind that comfort trumps style if callus and corn prevention is your priority!
3. Replace your shoes regularly as they wear down.
You know that favorite pair of shoes that you’ve been wearing every day for months, or maybe even more than a year? Even if they don’t cause you any pain, shoes still break down very quickly, and they need to be replaced often if you want to maintain proper foot support.
For example, a pair of tennis shoes that you use to workout in every day should be replaced approximately every six months. Soles that have been worn out don’t protect well against the shock of surface impact from walking or exercise, and the linings can start to chafe.
4. Purchase shoe insoles, corn pads, or toe separators from the foot care section of your local drugstore.
Most drugstores sell a variety of foot care-related products that you can buy over the counter. (Walmart has a dedicated section for foot care products where you can find everything from insoles and ankle wraps, to moisturizing creams and foot scrubs.)
You can buy shoe insoles in different sizes for different styles of men's and women's shoes, which may help with the pressure experienced from the impact on your feet. Corn pads are also good solutions to help prevent chafing, and toe separators are ideal for preventing calluses or corns that develop around or in between your toes.
5. See a podiatrist about custom insoles or orthotics.
If none of the above tips seem to work to prevent your calluses or corns from coming back, it might just be time to visit a podiatrist. He or she will be able to assess your situation and give you a much more personalized recommendation on what to do.
Custom insoles or even orthotics may be necessary to give you the best foot support, reduce the most amount of pressure on your feet, and ensure that your body weight is properly dispersed across your feet when you’re up and active. If your calluses or corns are causing you any pain at all, booking an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible would be wise.
Even if you take action on all the preventative tips explained in this article, it never hurts to go back to the pumice stone once in a while just to clean up the dry skin on your feet a bit, and there’s nothing wrong with moisturizing regularly. At the very least, you won’t have to spend so much time buffing and scraping away at the hard skin on your feet if you’re actively taking precautions to prevent excess pressure from being placed upon those troublesome areas.
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Woman using pumice via Shutterstock