In the swamp-y humidity of high summer, it can be a chore keeping your composure. The walk through the parking lot may only have lasted 30 seconds, if that, but you arrive at your desk looking like you just staggered across the finish line of your first marathon.
While it’s a nuisance for the office workers, all that relentless sweating can have real impacts on those of us who work outside. (That includes you, too, weekend warriors.) Sure, dehydration is a constant threat, but it’s usually easy to prevent. Treating Calluses and Corns, on the other hand, can be difficult.
Calluses can develop anywhere on the body where there’s repeated friction, but they’re especially common on the hands. Think of a guitar player’s fingertips or a mechanic’s palms. Corns develop at spots where a bone is constantly pressed against skin. Runners are prone to them on the balls of their feet. For those of us who insist on wearing poorly-fitting shoes, they’re more likely to crop up on the tops and sides of toes.
Even in ideal conditions, calluses and corns are a threat because it’s the friction and pressure that matter most. But that risk increases sharply when we’re drenched in sweat, particularly our hands and feet, for long periods. The skin’s trying to protect the underlying area from injury, pressure, or rubbing. All that sweating, however, only intensifies the friction.
Prevention, as I said, can be difficult on hot and humid days. But there are a few basic measures you can try:
- Change your socks regularly. If your work entails being on your feet for long periods of time, particularly outdoors, try bringing a couple extra pairs of socks with you and changing them every two to three hours. And opt for socks with a typical thickness. Thicker socks may provide more cushion, but they’re also likely to be too warm and cause an even tighter fit in your shoes.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The right size matters, of course, but you also want to avoid shoes with any poorly-placed seams. A breaking-in period is common with any new pair, but if you’re experiencing hot spots or developing blisters after a week or two, it’s time to move on. Try shopping for shoes toward the end of the day, when your feet may be a little swollen.
- Wear gloves. They may seem counterintuitive in the summer, but they’re an added layer of protection when you’re using hand tools.
Treating Calluses and Corns
- Soak your callus or corn in warm water. Give it about five to 10 minutes, or until it noticeably softens.
- File it with a pumice stone. Soak the pumice stone in warm water first, then use it to gently file to callus or corn. Try circular and sideways motions. Stick with whichever one seems to be the most effective. You want to remove as much of the dead skin as you can, but don’t go beyond that because it may cause an infection.
- Moisturize the area daily. Lotions and creams with salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea are particularly effective at healing calluses and corns because they’ll help gradually soften them.
- Protect it. Until it fully heals, protect your callus or corn with an adhesive pad designed specifically for corns and calluses. And, of course, avoid the act, if you can, that caused it in the first place.
Given the chance to heal, calluses and corns generally go away when the friction or pressure that caused them stops. But if you aren’t sure what caused it, or if the hardened skin is especially painful, or if you have diabetes, get yours checked out by a board-certified dermatologist.