Feels like I’m walking on stones! – Porokeratoses and painful foot callus

Ever feel like you are walking on a stone in the ball or heel of your foot? Feel a small painful foot callus but it doesn’t seem like a big enough callus to be causing SO much pain? Its worth getting looked at by your podiatrist.

One of the most common, and easily treatable complaints that people come into my office for are small lesions called porokeratoses. Generally, the complaints patients present with are feeling like they are walking on a painful stone or thorn on the ball or heel of their foot, they don’t recall stepping on anything to cause this pain, and while there is a small callus in the area of pain, it does not seem to help when the patient grinds the callus down at home.

Causes of porokeratoses is debated, but the most common assumed cause is that of clogged sweat glands in the foot. That’s right, we have sweat glands in our feet. Approximately 250,000 sweat glands actually. And sometimes when you combine the pressure and friction on the foot with debris and dead skin, those glands will clog. Because the gland is so deep in the skin layers, this pain feels like it’s very deep down in the foot, which is why the grinding down of the surface callus down does not provide relief.


Many patients try to just live with this pain or assume they have plantars warts and try to treat them at home, unsuccessfully. Eventually, patients give up and limp into the office after months of home treatments only to find their pain is easily remedied.

Treatment options involve cushioning the area of pain with insoles and controlling the amount feet sweat by using drying powders. However, those treatment options are usually best used as preventative medicine once you’ve had the area treated by your podiatrist. Your podiatrist will likely perform curetting of the lesion which should not cause you pain. Other options your doctor may offer for treatment are injections into the area or use of diluted acids to get rid of the clogged sweat gland entirely.

Whichever treatment option you choose with the advice of your physician, it is important to remember that this condition is likely to return and require periodic management. Patients who are more susceptible have feet that sweat more. Sweating can be exacerbated by colder-weather, closed in shoes and foot fungus. It will be important to use drying powders or sprays along with antifungals to help decrease the incidence of this condition.

For more information on conditions that may be making your feet hurt, click our interactive “Where does it Hurt” page: https://peninsulapod.com/where-does-it-hurt/

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