What to Do About Your Calluses When a Pumice Stone Isn’t Cutting It

What to Do About Your Calluses When a Pumice Stone Isn’t Cutting It
Photo: skimin0k, Shutterstock

Work your hands or feet enough and getting calluses is inevitable. Now that I’m a weightlifter, I have calluses all over my palms and fingers; when I played roller derby, I used to have them on specific parts of my feet. The standard advice — to gently abrade your calluses with a pumice stone or a scrubby cloth — is woefully inadequate for heavy duty calluses.

That’s why I’m a big fan of two specific types of tools, each a little more specialised than what you might find in the skincare section of your local store, each immensely more suited to dealing with serious calluses.

Why you need a callus file

Your first stop on the road to smoother, less injury-prone hands and feet is a foot file, also called a callus rasp. To be clear, you’re not looking for something that does the job with sandpaper or pumice; you want a tool made of metal. It should look like a cheese grater.

In fact, it may look so much like a cheese grater that it’s made by Microplane. I have one of their foot files and it looks almost exactly like the one I use for lemon zest. Fortunately it is a different colour than the ones we keep in the kitchen, which helps me more easily compartmentalise it as a personal care tool and not a cheese grater for my feet. (They even call it a “foot grater” on their website, though. I am so sorry.)

If you’re not ready for Microplane level foot-grating, a lighter duty callus file like this one will also blow any pumice stone or emery board out of the water. I’ve also heard good things about the PedEgg, although I’ve never used one myself.

Why you need an electric callus grinder

Already have a callus file but need to step things up a notch? I recently got an electric callus grinder and I’m kicking myself for not buying one earlier in my lifting career.

This is the model I’ve got. It’s battery powered and charges over USB. It has removable heads so you can choose coarser or finer grits. Most importantly, it can grind through a tough callus in minutes instead of requiring umpteen after-bath sessions with a file.

If your calluses are on your hands, rather than your feet, there’s a further advantage: its grinding surface is small enough that you can easily target even those calluses at the base of your knuckles, the ones that are nearly impossible to get with a big, flat, Microplane-style file.

As we mentioned in our earlier guide to dealing with lifting calluses, it’s safe and even preferable to grind off all the crusty skin you can manage. If it’s been hard to stay on top of the problem with the tools you’ve been using, give a callus file or an electric callus remover a try.

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