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In most cases, you will not suffer any ill effects if you don't get rid of calluses. Most are more of an annoyance than an actual health threat, so if you are satisfied with them being there, they won't do you any harm. Rarely, however, calluses may be more severe. In these cases, they should be treated by a medical professional to prevent infection or restricted function of the body part where they are present.
Calluses are actually part of the body's defense system against tissue damage. They are most common on the feet, elbows, and even the fingers in those who play instruments or perform work that puts strain on the fingertips. When the tissues are subjected to large amounts of pressure or force repeatedly, calluses form to toughen and protect the skin from damage. Most of the time there is no reason you should have to get rid of calluses, but you might choose to do so for aesthetic reasons.
You might be able to remove mild calluses yourself using an over the counter buffer or smoothing agent. There are scrapers which can be used on the heels and other very hard sections of skin to remove thickened, dead, tissue. These can be purchased in most pharmacies and some beauty supply stores. They are not always effective for very rough skin, but over time they can help soften the area. Some creams and lotions may also be beneficial for mild calluses.
In more severe cases, you may have no choice but to get rid of calluses. This will require the help of a licensed medical professional who is experienced in such matters. Chemical treatments used to soften or dissolve calluses are commonly used. If the callus is infected, antibiotic medications might also be used to kill any bacteria. Very rarely, surgery is used to remove a callus.
Signs that you should get rid of calluses on your body can include pain, redness, swelling, oozing, heat around the callus, and sometimes a mild fever. These could all be symptoms of infection. If calluses become so large that they hinder your use of the foot, finger, or other body part on which the callus is found, this should also be checked by a doctor. Occasionally, special braces may be used to take pressure off the callused area.
If you want to get rid of calluses that are not causing any medical problems, your doctor might still be able to help. Although not usually dangerous, calluses can be unsightly and they cause an embarrassing roughness on the skin. Speak with your doctor if you want to have a callus removed.