Calluses can occur anywhere on the body where there is friction and/or pressure. When associated with a diabetic, calluses can be the first sign of ulcer formation. While they can also show up on the hands, most diabetics will experience calluses on their feet. Usually caused by uneven application of weight on the foot, calluses can also occur due to poor-fitting shoes or not using socks. For this reason calluses usually develop on the soles of the feet on the heel or ball. Amongst diabetics, those with neuropathy are the most at risk.


When Diabetic Calluses Become Something Else


While calluses themselves are harmless and can be treated daily at home, a callus that is left untreated due to diabetic neuropathy can lead to a foot ulcer. Calluses create pressure on the foot and can cause the skin under the surface to break down. The callus may then begin to bleed under the surface, leading to an ulcer. Reduced immune response increases the risk of complications with both calluses and ulcers. In a study conducted in 2001, 82% of diabetic patients with calluses developed an ulcer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to detect when a callus has become inflamed. Ulcers can become extremely serious when not treated properly. A doctor must properly assess the cause of the ulcer and administer a treatment plan. During this time is important to keep weight off of the affected foot. Risks of infection or improper healing may result in formation of other ulcers or at the most severe, amputation.


Diabetic Calluses – Finding the Right Shoe


Calluses are best treated by using a pumice stone or other exfoliating tool to buff the foot after bathing and can be prevented by using insoles and additional cushioning in your shoes. Never attempt to cut calluses off. If your callus requires additional trimming make an appointment with your doctor. Selecting the right shoe is also important in the prevention of calluses. You should consider several things when shopping: the shape of your feet, the width, a sufficient toe box, and arch type. While exercise should be a part of your lifestyle, try and avoid high-impact activities such as running as this can lead to chafing and blisters. Activities like swimming and cycling are ideal. Also, if you suffer from neuropathy it is important to test bath water with a hand rather than the feet to prevent burning. Anytime a callus becomes inflamed or painful it’s important to see a doctor immediately. As will all complications of diabetes, prevention is the best medicine. Keeping glucose levels in check reduces the risk of other skin complications and reduced immune response.