It's that time (again) for my favorite dinner-table topic: thick yellow foot skin.
This one is all about pinch callus. That hard skin ridge that runs up the base of your painful pinky toe.
Or a mustard-colored clump on the side of your big toe.
Why do these areas attract pinch callus? Why do you get it?
(It means you've got a little toe that juts under — or a big toe that twists off to the side)
And how do you get rid of it? At least for a while.
Pinch callus on your toes come from friction, but not the normal sort.
Pinky toe pinch callus stems from little toes that under-ride. Pinch callus on your big toe is from a jammed-up joint
Both are heightened by taper-tight shoes
Pinch Callus (on Your Big or Pinky Toe)
I talk about callus (and foot corns) a lot. Sometimes I talk about both.
(It may be the reason I don't get many party invites)
To recap, callus on your foot - in any form - is nothing more than a protective mechanism.
The thick, rough skin grows where there's a ton of pressure on or around that spot.
Think heels, balls of the toes...and pinch callus.
In fact, the nipping variety of friction skin is a great example of Natures' self-defense at work.
The Thick-Skin Detective
I became a Podiatrist because I love watching how people move (then fixing them when they can't).
Foot nerd confession: I find small-scale conditions as interesting as obvious ones.
For me, pinch skin piques the same interest as plantar fasciitis.
True, it may not disable as much, but pinch callus still comes from body motion that's out of whack.
Pinky Toe Pinch Callus
You get pinky-toe pinch callus on your little toe under-flesh.
As the name implies, it's created when your skin is squeezed. Every step grinds and pinches that thin ridge at the end.
A yellow crest forms atop in a pointed taper, and over time takes on a life of its own.
Where Rubber Meets The Road
So why have you got pinch callus instead of good ol' hard skin on the side or top?
Because you have a fifth digit that under-rides the toe beside.
When you put shoes on, your baby toe is forced inwards and is now the lowest point of your foot.
The Tender Tendon Baby
Your baby toe is liable to twist, turn 'n' rotate. They're also inclined to drift in, point out and pull back.
(A pushed-in, pinched-up little toe is also a major driver of soft corns and thick petaloid toenails)
What happens is that tendons that keep your pinky toe straight and true — well, they get short and weak.
The main reason for this is decades of sardine-tin compress from shoes.
While we're on footwear, this isn't as big a factor with big toe callus. For that, we have to look to something far closer to home...
Big Toe Pinch Callus
Slinky Down a Stairs
Big toe pinch callus is the rough yellow skin that builds on your inner big toe.
This lump of pinch callus on your big toe means your joint is jammed up.
Instead of moving forward - like a slinky downstairs - your big toe twists off to the side.
It then rasps with delight on the inside of your shoes.
So, why does it veer off sideways?
Arthritis (You Never Knew You Had)
How does a perfect big toe joint move?
Answer: in a nice straight motion, like a switch you pull down.
But, plot twist, big toe joints degrade. They stop gliding up and start to skid sideways.
Your cartilage frays and hard bone gladly fills the gap.
Now, class, what's the name for a damaged joint in your body with messed-up movement?
That's right, arthritis. And the name for yours is hallux limitus.
One of its stand-out signs is big toe pinch callus.
(Before you google walking sticks, it's one of the gentlest forms of joint wear' n 'tear you can get)
Pinch Callus Removal
I don't know about you, but I often lay awake at night pondering foot callus.
Which one I'd rather have? What type is worst?
But, seriously, if you had to pick parched skin, then pinch callus is the clear winner.
It's small, obvious and easy to get to. As a result, it's simple to home remove.
Sand, Spray and Fish
There's three proven ways of safe pinch callus removal.
The first is with spray. Well, it's a spray burr, a fine mist of water drizzled in front of a fast-rotating file.
One slight drawback: they cost thousands.
The second way is those schools of little fish in tanks, all the rage a few years back.
Great if you have an aquarium you can dangle your legs into!
And the last? Well, you can walk into any DIY store and pick up pinch callus remover.
I am, of course, referring to sandpaper — but don't use timber-scraper. Instead, use a nice fine-grain emery and urea-based foot cream.
(Actually, there's a fourth, via a scalpel as seen in this video)
Step 1: Slather
Use a urea-based cream and apply a liberal amount to the pinch callus. It doesn't matter whether it's the pinky or big toe.
(I use Gehwol Blue or Mint Foot Cream)
Step 2: Soak
Now leave it to soak in for 5-10 minutes.
This will rehydrate your skin and allow the yellow lump to slide off.
Step 3: Sand
I'll give pedicurists credit for one thing: they do a mean line in skin removal.
I use Gehwol wooden pedicure files.
Compared to pumice stones and emery boards, I find paddle files way better.
They allow you to apply the gliding rasp where you need it — and avoid where you don't.
(They also double up great for heels)
If you want it really gone, as in for months, repeat the above. You may have to do it a few times anyways if it's super built-up.
Women (Have Worse Feet Than Men)
Yep, and it's all down to those ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).
Pinch Callus (on Your Big or Pinky Toe)
Pinch callus, like so many foot problems, is small but annoying.
On your little toe, look to tight tendons that push it into (and under) the toe next door.
Big toe pinch callus? Largely caused by hallux limitus, aka early-stage toe arthritis.
In the grand scheme of things, these conditions are easy to deal with and remove.
In fact, it's a lot simpler to home cream 'n' file them every month or two than surgery or drastic shoe changes!