I have hard skin on my feet and I don’t know why.
Hard skin is a common problem people have with their feet and we often get asked why it occurs. There are many reasons why you might develop hard skin on your feet. Sometimes it can be painful and other times its totally pain free. Painful callous can be quite debilitating and can often stop people from carrying out activities they enjoy.
Understanding our skin
The skin is made up of two distinct parts, the dermis and the epidermis. The dermis is the deeper layer and the epidermis is closer to the surface and has five layers which consist of skin cells called keratinocytes. Our skin sheds naturally over a course of around 28 days in a process known as desquamation. During this process our skin cells move up from the deepest layer of the epidermis to the surface of the epidermis, which is when they die and drop off (dead skin cells). Build-up of hard skin happens when this process is disrupted, or something prevents it from happening.
This process isn’t always halted by something you are doing wrong, such as ill-fitting shoes, sometimes the process can be disrupted due to the stress caused by an intrinsic factor, such as a bony prominence on the foot like a bunion or sometimes systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can change the shape of the feet, leading to external stresses. Certain skin diseases, such as psoriasis can also change the skin process too. You may also find if you have an infection such as plantar warts (verruca) or fungal infection this may cause hard skin to develop.
Having said this, the most common reason for hard skin building up is due to extrinsic factors. These are things such as ill- fitting footwear (sometimes not taking into consideration a change in foot shape)
What can I do?
A podiatrist is likely going to be the best person you can see about hard skin. A podiatrist will assess why the hard skin is occurring and discuss with you possible ways of preventing it or controlling it. This may be through regularly attending traditional podiatry appointments where a podiatrist will use a scalpel to gently and painlessly remove any areas of callous, the podiatrist will likely give you advice on how to care for your feet at home and avoid the build up or if the problems are due to intrinsic factors, they may look towards more of a biomechanical treatment plan. Please note though, callous can be there to protect your foot, especially if you are doing high endurance activities and therefore a podiatrist may not always advise that it be removed.