How The Footfile Is The Cheapest And Effective Way To Treat Thick Toenails And Hard Skin


The footfile is something that is rarely used but something that could save you time and money especially if you have thick toenails or hard skin.

Who uses them?

Back in the UK NHS we were trying to see only higher risk foot patients. Which meant that anyone who was fit and healthy but had thick nails or hard skin had to be temporary removed from our lists. We gave each patient advice and...

A foofile. One similar to the one below:


How do you use a footfile for Callus?

It depends upon what you have. If you have callus then it needs to be used a slightly different way than if you had thick toenails.

So for hard skin a footfile works better when:

  • The skin is dry. I know many adverts state wet skin, but a file tends to bobble the skin. It will remove it but it is not that efficient. So before you have a bath/ shower
  • When the skin isn't that bad. There are some metal cheese grater looking footfiles around and they can be aggressive. The plasticy type file material isnt that deep and hard skin is, well, hard :) So it works better when the hard skin has been professionally treated first and then you keep on top of the hard skin using a file. So if you heels look like the picture below it will have a difficult time getting rid of the hard skin.
hard skin footfile
  • On a regular basis. So it depends upon the hard skin. Mild hard skin and you could do once or twice a week, a couple of gentle buffs and its done.
  • Combination. Footfiles really work well when they are combined with emollients. So you gently buff and then use some emollient. So you are treating one of the causes- dryness and then you are keeping down a second issue- skin thickness

How do you use a footfile for thick nails?

Use of a footfile on a thick toenail is slightly different from use on hard skin.

  • For better results the nail needs to be thinner in the first place. Professionally done the nails can be thinned down and then you just keep on top of it with one or two buffs a week to keep the thickness down. It can be used if the nail is thick, but it will just take longer to do.
  • Not to use the metal file
  • You go over the nail. So with this method you dont go across- you go over. With this you tend to reduce the risk of cutting too short or causing ingrown toenails. If you do it too much and not evenly  you can get a thinner middle and slightly thicker sides:
thick toenail footfile

Any issues with using a footfile?

Like with anything new. Get your thick toenail or callus checked out by a footcare professional.

Why? Well you might find a simpler solution to your issue. If it is a fungus toenail then you might be able to cure it. If it is hard skin then it might be how you walk and then that could be cured.

  • Dont go too hard with the filing. You are not trying to make fire. gentle buffs are all that is needed. Hard skin is rarely alone- it is accompanied with good skin and if you go too close then it is going to be sore. Remember hard skin is there for a reason not because it wants to hang with you. If you bleed you have gone too far and you need to dress that area and check it. If discharge comes from your thick nail then you need to dress it and see a footcare professional.
  • If you have toenail fungus. Then you dont want to use that file on all of your good nails or onto hard skin. One file for hard skin, one file for nails is easier. And try not to share with other people.
  • You need to wash out the footfile and gently scrub it. Care with scrubbing because it can wear the file. Callus/ nail gets stuck within the file and it becomes inefficient if you dont clean it
  • Sometimes "peeling" agents come with the file to get rid of the hard skin. Or you can buy these agents. These are OK in some instances, but if you are using a footfile and emollients then that should be enough.

What types of footfiles are there?
1# The Electric Callus Remover

You have the mechanical versions- battery/ mains electric and they work well- again mainly just minimal hard skin and not on nails.

They all work on the basis of a rough roller spinning. After a while the roller reduces in effectiveness and then you replace the rollers.

I think the first one I noticed was Amope  then there was a large influx (which helps price and choice). There are many types including:

electric footfile

The above is an ArtNatural rechargable device. The roller spins and that reduces the hard skin through a sandpaper type of material. When it gets worn you replace the roller. This device has 4 stars and 106 reviews on Amazon.

The Amope version at Amazon is more expensive, however it has 4 stars and 886 reviews- which is largest at time of writing for a hand held callus reducing device on Amazon .

What types of footfile are there?
2# Hand footfiles

When you start looking at the various types there are a ton. It is up to you which you want. Most are of similar style and roughage. So it is really your preference.

You can go with a single file (which can range from $6-18) or you can get a pack of 3 different sizes for roughly the same price.

wood footfile

The above is a wooden footfile with 116 reviews, cheap and 4.5 stars. Looks cool. Don't have to use it wet.

3 footfiles

The above are 3 footfiles for a good price. 4.5 stars and 16 reviews on Amazon. The metal one is sold by itself for cheaper (not by much) but as we have discussed metal is OK but the sand paper type ones are nicer :)

You can check out the Thick toenail 101 here. Or even Hard Skin 101.

The medical information on the web site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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About Dominic Hough

Hi. I'm Dominic. I treat patients every day at a local clinic. I am a trained Chiropodist and I care about prevention. I designed the website to help readers understand treat and even prevent issues from happening to their feet.