Most skin problems related to dance are caused by friction, moisture or shoes that fit improperly. Calluses, a thickening of the skin on the bottom of the foot, are generally not considered a bad thing. In fact they can be crucial for barefoot dancers and for ballet dancers who dance en pointe. Calluses typically develop on the ball of the foot (especially under the great toe), heel and under side of the toes. If calluses become overgrown or cracked, they can be uncomfortable and are susceptible to infection. The dancer can file them down with a pumus stone or they can be shaved down by a physician or podiatrist. If there are signs of infection, the foot can be soaked or treated with antibiotics, however any serious infections should be treated by a physician.
Corns are small, hard, conical bumps commonly found on the top surface of the small toes. They often form over a joint as a result of a hammer toe or other deformity. Corns are subject to inflammation and infection if left untreated. Dancers can reduce minor corns themselves by using a magnesium sulfate soak. More severe cases should be referred to a physician. He/she will use a scalpel to cut the corn off and the dancer must pad the area. Common padding solutions include cutting a hole in the center of a moleskin pad or using a donut shaped pad that can be found in an over-the-counter plantar wart kit.
Blisters are an exceedingly common occurance and “go with the territory”, especially for pointe, barefoot, and tap dancers. An area of the top layer of skin peels away, and this can be painful if you continue to dance without treating the blister. The flap of skin should be cut away to air out the area and prevent infection. A wives tale solution is to lay the flap back over the wound and tape the area. This is inviting moisture and infection and should be avoided. Antibiotic ointment and epsom salt soaks can expedite the healing process and protect the wound from infection.
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