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‘To Shed or Not To Shed’, That is The Question!


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‘To Shed or Not To Shed’, That is The Question!

Jane Lawler

The cold and wet weather has well and truly settled in, and with it enclosed boots and shoes that don’t quite feel as comfortable as you remember. Winter shoes remind us about those lumps and bumps that get pressure, on the back of the heels, on the side of the big toe joint, on the side of the little toe joint or on the toes themselves. Irritation from footwear can cause painful areas that may get red and swollen or may develop areas of hard skin (callouses or corns) that are also painful. It’s important to make sure your footwear is wide and deep enough for your feet and well fitting. Guess what - shoes that are too big can cause just as many problems.

Most people assume there’s nothing that can be done about irritation from shoes and that blisters are inevitable. It’s tempting to think of shedding the extra skin just as a snake might do. But if your shoes are well fitting there’s another reason you are developing areas of hard skin or inflammation. Lumps and bumps on the feet are varied and can occur at many locations. This might be the back of the heels (also called a retrocalcaneal exostosis or a Haglund’s bump), the side of the big toe joint (bunions) or the little toe joint (tailor’s bunions), in between the toes, on the toes (hammertoes), or under the balls of the feet. Sometimes they are soft and squishy and sometimes they are hard.

If you’re developing hard skin or areas of irritation on your feet it’s worth getting a podiatric assessment to determine and explain the cause of the build-up. It’s important to distinguish between a corn and a blister or a chilblain (which are prevalent in cold, wet weather) and are treated very differently.

So, should we get rid of the hard skin or not?

If the hard skin is not painful and just builds up, then having the skin removed on a regular basis at the podiatrist is a great idea and using a good foot cream is important. Don’t try to scrape the skin away yourself or use products you can buy for this purpose, as this can lead to many problems, including taking too much skin off, infection and destruction of healthy skin.

We can remove just the right amount of skin in a controlled and sterile fashion and can also advise on some simple measures and toe props that may help. At the same time we can explain why you are developing the extra skin and what you can do about it. If the hard skin build up is recurrent and painful and you are not getting relief from regular podiatry treatment it’s worth coming in to see Michael Taranto or Julie Taranto for their specialised surgical opinion.