This is a common question! Plantar simply means the bottom of the foot. Callus is hard skin that forms on the foot. So a plantar callus is hard skin on the bottom of the foot.
There are many reasons that hard skin forms on the bottom of the foot. These callus areas usually form when there is pressure or friction. These areas of high stress on the skin will form a callus to protect the skin from breaking down. The most common areas are near a bunion, on the ball of the foot and on the heels. All of these areas have considerable pressure leading to the callus.
While the callus is typically protecting the skin, there are times that calluses can be harmful. If you have diabetes and cannot feel the bottom of your foot, the callus may enlarge and breakdown. When the callus breaks down, an ulcer or sore will form which can lead to diabetic complications. Calluses may also become so thick that they cause significant pain and make it difficult to walk, stand or do activities.
When calluses form, you can soften them with cream and use a pumice stone to decrease the callus size. Some people will use sharper objects and acid containing pads that can worsen the problem and lead to infection. So be careful with these products.
A podiatrist can trim your callus and give you relief for a short time. The key to getting rid of calluses is to address the cause of the problem. The most common cause of calluses is stress to the foot cause by abnormal foot function and motion. Having your podiatrist make you a pair of custom orthotics can cure your calluses or give you significant relief. In some cases surgery may be necessary to remove the high friction areas.
While plantar calluses are simply hard skin, they can cause major problems and often require treatment from your podiatrist.
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