Callus pads provide protection against pressure and pain that may result when a person walks with a callus on his foot. Some callus pads also contain salicylic acid, which helps to dissolve the tough skin on the callus. If the pads do contain salicylic acid, a person needs to be careful using them, as the acid can damage parts of the skin that do not have calluses. Callus pads are usually made of a soft foam, felt, or silicone gel.
A callus usually forms on the bottom of the foot, particularly in areas where there is pressure between the foot and the ground. Most calluses do not hurt, but some do if they are exposed to friction or pressure. Typically, a person develops a callus on the foot from wearing shoes that are too tight or too big. Not wearing socks to protect the feet can also lead to calluses.
Pads for calluses vary in shape in size. Some are shaped like donuts so that the callus rests in the middle of the pad. The surrounding ring keeps pressure off of the callus. Others are U-shaped, which may help prevent calluses from growing larger. Some pads cover the entire callus as well as the surrounding area of the foot and act as cushioning for the ball of the foot.
Callus pads that contain salicylic acid do not have a cut-out for the callus in the center. Usually, medicated pads come in two pieces. One piece is a small disk that contains the salicylic acid. The other is a foam cushion that covers the callus and disk and the area around the foot. Although using salicylic acid to remove a callus may seem like a good idea, it can be dangerous.
Some callus pads are made of a rubber foam. People who are allergic to rubber and latex need to seek out a different material if they need to treat a callus. Other options include a flannel pad or pads made of felt. Gel pads may be made of silicone and are usually reusable.
People who have diabetes should always consult their doctor before using a medicated callus pad, as the salicylic acid can lead to infection or a sore. If the acid is applied to healthy skin, such as just next to the callus, injury and infection can result, even in an otherwise healthy person. If an over-the-counter salicylic acid and callus pad is not enough, a doctor can prescribe a higher strength.