Of the many things that can cause trouble for your feet, corns and calluses are at the top of the list. Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop from excessive pressure and friction and are often confused with one another. Thankfully they are fairly easy to get rid of, but it may take some time. For this Thanksgiving, we are offering you a helping hand when it comes to what to do about troublesome little bumps!
What is a corn?
For anyone who has a pair of shoes that may look amazing but are a little too snug, you’ve probably experienced a corn or two before. Repeated pressure and friction on your skin will cause a little bump of hardened inflamed skin to develop as the body’s attempt to protect itself.
Though not contagious, these bumps can become painful and those who suffer from poor blood flow may develop more serious problems should calluses or corns become a problem.
Corn vs. Callus
Corns and calluses can be very similar, but there is a difference!
The difference between corns and calluses is that a corn typically develops from friction and pressure on the bone whereas calluses can develop anywhere on your body that experiences frequent friction and pressure. Calluses often cover larger and wider areas with unclear edges on the skin. Corns typically develop between the toes or on the side or tops of feet, but they can occur elsewhere. They are often deep within the skin and can become irritated when pressure is applied to them.
There are different types of corns, but the most common we see are:
- Hard Corns-These are often from poor-fitting shoes and formed due to pressure on the side or top of feet as small concentrated spots.
- Soft Corns– They may appear whitish or gray and rubbery in texture between the toes. These corns are softer due to your sweat keeping them warm and moist. If left untreated these corns put you at higher risk of developing infections or other ailments.
Corns often occur from a bony area rubbing against another surface creating friction and pressure that leads to irritation and a bump.
Patients with hammertoes, bunions, and other foot alignment issues are more prone to corns and calluses.
However, some other factors may be:
- Ill-fitting shoes– Wearing tight shoes, high heels, or footwear with narrow toe-boxes will compress your feet and toes together causing friction. Shoes that are too loose can cause your foot to slip and slide rubbing against the shoe which will also cause friction.
- Socks-Wearing shoes or sandals without socks or socks that do not fit properly can increase your risk of developing corns.
- Constant use– Playing instruments, lifting weights, or constant, unprotected use of hands or feet can put you at greater risk of being prone to calluses and corns.
When to see a doctor
If you are experiencing daily pain and discomfort, see a podiatrist immediately. Those who suffer from diabetes or conditions that cause poor circulation should call their doctor as injuries to the foot can lead to open sores or ulcers.
Mild cases may not require treatment and can be left alone. However, the reason or cause for the development of the corn should be investigated to prevent more from arising.
Always talk to your doctor before self-treating. Some common at-home treatments include:
- Applying powders or astringents to reduce sweat between toes
- Using padding to prevent further irritation. Over-the-counter pads or moleskin cut-outs are great options to help avoid contact.
- Rub the corn with a pumice stone, emery board or file to remove dead skin. Always move in a circular or sideways motion. Soaking your feet for at least 20 minutes to soften skin may make skin removal easier.
- Look for a moisturizing cream or lotion that will help to gradually soften your skin
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks that fit your feet properly
Your podiatrist will examine your feet and rule out other possible causes for thickened skin such as cysts or warts. X-rays may also be used to determine possible alignment issues and the best treatment for your condition.
You may be asked to walk in your shoes so that your podiatrist can inspect and watch the way you walk.
A change in shoes or orthotics may be a recommended form of treatment if your case is mild.
Callus removing medication can be prescribed to you in the form of a patch or gel depending on the area. Your doctor will instruct you on how often you should apply and wear the treatment.
Large corns are most effectively reduced with surgical blades to shave away the thickened dead skin. This is often done in an office visit and is a painless procedure as the skin is already dead.
In rare instances, surgery may be required if you are unresponsive to other forms of treatment or if severe misalignment of your bones is the cause. However, surgical treatment will most likely require bone cutting to realign the bones as well as a long period of recovery. As such, your podiatrist will often attempt all forms of other treatment before recommending surgery.
If you have any questions or concerns about corns, calluses, or treatment options contact us at the office of Adam F. Resnikoff, DPM today. We’d be happy to help you in any way.