DIY pedicure
July 7, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I have fairly big callouses on the outsides of each big toe. How can I remove them painlessly?

I'd prefer to spare the expense of a pedicure if I can. I just want to get rid of these callouses. The thought of rubbing on them with a pumice stone gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have sensitive feet and I'm afraid of hurting myself. Any other effective DIY products/advice you can give? Or should I just go get a pedicure? I'm a woman, if that makes any difference at all.

Thanks in advance!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The pedicure is the most painless way to do it, although technically they are not SUPPOSED to scrape off your callouses with the shavers due to risk of infection. Yet they always take off mine.

I went and saw a doctor for mine, he just shaved them off and said they'd grow back and recommended the pumice stone or, yes, pedicures.

Unfortunately there's no permanent solution, only fixes when they flare up he said.
posted by arniec at 1:46 PM on July 7, 2008

The best thing you can do for your feet to avoid big nasty callouses in the first place is to buy shoes that actually fit.

Secondly, there's really no way to remove callouses without some pain. Start soaking your feet every night (warm/hot water + half a cup of epsom salt.) Either buy a foot bath with bubbling action OR use a large pan. This process won't be quick but you'll be able to see which bits of skin are ready to be scrubbed/rubbed/stoned off more easily. DO NOT DECIDE TO RANDOMLY SLICE OR HACK BITS OFF.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2008

If you don't want to abrade them off, which is what I prefer to do as a first step, using a file, nto a pumice stone, you could skip to my preferred step two: Pretty Feet and Hands, a lotion that removes dead skin, by being slightly basic I always assumed.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2008

Use these. There are disks impregnated with salicylic acid that you leave on for a period od time and chage. It softens and rids the callus.

Kerasal products are sold in nearly every discount and drug store. They sell an ointment with urea that will soften the skin and keep thing smooth. Slather it on your feet and wear cotton socks to bed.

Get yourself a foot file and each time you shower give your feet a little buff. This prevents calluses and rough spots.

You could also use a callus shaver. Be very careful, they can be very dangerous.
posted by LoriFLA at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2008

One of these. If it hurts, you're doing it wrong.
posted by pieoverdone at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2008

Don't don't don't cut off callouses. You can't tell how much of it is live flesh before you start cutting. It can be done safely, but if you break the skin you're in trouble.

I control mine with soaking my feet while watching a teevee show, and then taking a pumice
stone to the softened dead skin. If you start to feel any pain, stop with the pumice stone, let your feet dry, and try more tomorrow. Doing it safely may more than one try.
posted by Mozai at 1:54 PM on July 7, 2008

Calluses on the outside of each big toe indicate you might find a visit to the podiatrist helpful. Not only can they treat the callus, they can look at why they are developing where they are, in this case most likely because you have an issue with pronation when you walk.
posted by fire&wings at 2:06 PM on July 7, 2008

Ambrosia Voyeur is right, Pretty Feet and Hands is probably best if you're nervous about that kind of thing. In theory, this should be a maintenance thing, performed with Epsom salt in foot-sized basins of water every so often.

HYPOCRISY ALERT: I'm guilty of not practicing what I'm preaching. Being a guy and lazy ... I've never had a problem with flipping open the nail scissors and just jamming a blade through a callus, then sawing it right off. I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually cut myself with this process over many, many years. This is with fairly sensitive feet, too. I only mention this because, unless you've got infection issues, you're tramping through the jungle, have diabetes or hemophilia, etc., a small nick (and that's what we're talking about here) is not something you should fear, just sensibly avoid. You're more likely to lop off a fingertip slicing carrots for your salad than get into trouble here. I know, horribly uncautious of me, naughty for even bringing it up, call the safety police.

Then again, I yank hangnails out with my teeth, so I'm completely uncivilized.
posted by adipocere at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2008

I get those exact same calluses. If you soak your feet in warm water and rub very gently with a foot file you can smooth them out painlessly. I like the kind with a metal file on one side and a fine sandpaper/emery board-type surface on the other. After a few tries you'll figure out how much pressure it takes and when to stop.

I don't like pumice stones as much, and I wouldn't recommend the shavers because not only do they have scary slip-up potential, they tend to rust ultra-fast, and you may be put off shaved Parmesan forever after looking at slivers of dead callus skin. If you do go the shaver route, you must soak your feet first. Never use a shaver on dry feet!

Unfortunately they will sneak back up on you after a couple weeks, so you might want to mentally block out a chunk of time every week for a foot-filing to keep them pretty. Wearing socks and moisturizing your feet before putting socks on can help slow them down.

I admit that in desperate times I have hacked off chunks of callus with regular scissors. I've never hurt myself doing it, but I have to say NEVER EVER DO THIS. It is probably an insanely bad idea.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2008

I take a shower then use one of those Ped Eggs found at Walgreen's for ten bucks. Right after I used it the first time I went hiking in my too wide shoes and got a blister. Otherwise a painless procedure, and you get the thrill of dumping the skin shavings afterwards. Prior to the Ped Egg I just cut them off, but it was uneven and gross.
posted by mecran01 at 2:18 PM on July 7, 2008

I get these, and use a callous shaver about once a month. The pumice stone thing doesn't work for me. Just be careful with the callous shaver, use a new blade every time, and only shave off thin slices with each swipe. And yes, if it hurts, you're doing it wrong. p.s. I find pedicurists to be a violent sort and prefer to do it myself--much, much less chance of pain.
posted by Ollie at 2:20 PM on July 7, 2008

Scrub the callous with a nail brush every day when you shower. Eventually they will be gone. Continue with this to prevent them.
posted by yohko at 3:00 PM on July 7, 2008

I use a dremel with a sanding belt I reserve for this purpose.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 3:06 PM on July 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

Use the pumice/Dremel first thing in the morning, before you've walked and your feet are at their least sensitive. Use wet pumice on dry skin.
posted by neuron at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2008

I use an emery board, either the cardboard or foam core type. Use the fine grit side and very gentle pressure. For me, it does a fine job of grinding away the dead skin and not hurting the living skin. Takes a couple of days.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:34 PM on July 7, 2008

I LOVE my callous shaver! I find I can give myself a better than professional pedicure with them. Like Ollie said, apply very light pressure and only shave off small portions at a time. I soak my feet for about 20 minutes first. Then I will use it to the point where there is only a little callous left, then smooth it out with a foot file after my feet are dry.
posted by MayNicholas at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2008

I have these. My first step was to get shoes that were wide enough for my toes - as long as the irritation is there, the callouses will come back.

I got rid of most of them with a metal file. I had a terrible itch underneath one of them, and I managed to file it down until I could feel it. It was kind of disgusting but a great relief.

They still are there a bit, but I keep them at bay by soaking my feet - and not for a few minutes but until the skin is very soft - and then just rubbing with my fingers. All the dead extra skin just comes right off.
posted by tomble at 3:46 PM on July 7, 2008

I use a metal file, NOT the pumice stone (too wussy) and NOT the callus shaver (yikes!). A lotion and/or soak containing lactic acid can help soften them up.
posted by Madamina at 4:29 PM on July 7, 2008

I bought a PedEgg and it works great! I use it after I shower and then I rub some lotion on the area and I have never had a problem. I use the Egg about every 7 to 10 days.
posted by govtdrone at 4:35 PM on July 7, 2008

I use a pumice stone (example (your local drugstore should have them in single packs for $1-3)) and gently rub at the callous every shower/bath. If it hurts, you are rubbing to hard. There may be times; after a day on your feet, after wearing certain shoes, etc. that you need to be more gentle or can attack the callous more vigorously. When my feet were particularly bad, I used epsom salt soaks to aid in the moisturizing/scrubbing process. I just use the pumice stone in the shower now and my callouses are kept in check.

Callouses generally indicate uneven settling of your foot in your shoe. Consider different shoes. Consider orthotics; do NOT believe the salespeople at stores that specialize in orthotics that believe that the majority of people need them. Consider exercise if out of shape. Consider a visit to the doctor (I believe most family physicians should be able to provide assistance with this) to talk about your feet.

Pedicures SHOULD NOT be removing large callouses in a single visit. As mentioned above, cutting callouses off is questionably safe. If the callouses are thick enough that they are no longer soft (what with them being very dead skin), start moisturizing your feet. My preference is to moisturize and than wear just socks around the house for an hour or two before putting shoes on.
posted by fief at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2008

kerasol, it takes a while but worked for me - eventually big pieces started coming off
posted by thylacine at 5:38 PM on July 7, 2008

Pedegg. All the way!
posted by arnicae at 8:00 PM on July 7, 2008

Nth-ing the PedEgg - but must say that the instructions specify doing it on dry feet (even though most other methods require wet/soaked feet). Basically the PedEgg is a microplane grater for your feet. I found that by using it on dry feet, I could easily tell when I might be getting too close to healthy skin, so then I'd stop.

It's an embarassingly As-Seen-On-Tv item, but I'm a big fan ! Seems to be for sale for $9.99 at all the major drugstore chains.
posted by AuntLisa at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2008

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