Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses by David Webby

 

A corn or callus is an area of hard, thickened skin on the foot that is formed in response to pressure or friction. They are part of the body’s defense system to protect the underlying tissues. If the cause of pressure is not relieved, calluses can become painful, and a breakdown of skin can occur.

 

A corn has a central core, usually formed over a bony prominence.

‘Soft’ corns may develop between the toes, where the skin is moist from sweat. Sometimes, the pressure of the corn or callus may produce inflammation, which can result in acute pain, swelling and redness, or pressure on a nerve situated between the skin and the bone.

 

Sometimes a corn can be misdiagnosed as a wart, but Podiatrists are skilled at assessing the lesion and assess factors that maybe influencing its formation. 

Treatment for warts and corns are different and it is important to determine this.

 

Common sites of corn and callus, are the ball of the foot, under the big toe, the tips and the tops of toes. 

 

Symptoms

  • Thickened patch of hard skin on the foot. 

  • Hard, small bump of skin that may have a central core. 

  • White and rubbery bumps of skin (‘soft’ corns, in between the toes). 

  • In some cases, the callus pushes into the foot, rather than spreading across the skin surface. 

  • Pain when pressure or friction is applied to the area.

 

Anyone can develop corns or calluses, but some groups are particularly at risk, including:

 

  • People with Diabetes can be prone to poor circulation & slow healing and are at risk of developing an infection or ulcer. Diabetics may also lose the feeling in their feet and not know they have a corn or callus, which can ulcerate if not treated.

  • Elderly people - because ageing skin loses elasticity and fatty tissue. 

  • People who spend a lot of time standing up - because of the continuous weight-bearing pressure on their feet. 

  • People with feet that roll inwards or have flat feet (called pronation) - flat feet place excessive pressure on the ball of the foot beneath the big toe, and the inside of the heel. 

  • A person with foot complaints (such as a hammer toe, bunions or arthritis) - because a bony prominence can rub against the shoe or neighbouring toes. 

  • People who regularly wear shoes that are narrow, tight, ill-fitting or high-heels.

 

What can you do?

 

  • Check your shoes for pressure areas, or thick seams/stitching that may damage the skin.

  • Check the imprint of your toes on the insole of your shoe to ensure your foot is not sliding forward or too short. (Rule of thumb is a thumb nail from your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Test when you are standing up)

  • Apply a moisturizing cream such as Sorbolene cream to help hydrate your skin and improve elasticity.

  • You can use a file or fine sand paper to rub back the callus. Make sure you don’t file the skin too much and make it bleed. 

  • Avoid using corn pads as these can affect the surrounding healthy skin, and may ulcerate, which can cause issues for those with Diabetes or compromised circulation.

How can we Help?

 

  • Podiatrists are trained and experienced at trimming or debriding the callus or corn to relieve pain.

  • We sometimes use padding on painful areas of the foot to temporarily take pressure off the corn Callus. 

  • We can make a custom style wedge out of silicon for corns between toes, or a toe bolster if you have corns on the neds of your toes 

  • As well as treatment, investigation and assessment of your footwear is important to determine the possible causes, ie shoe pressure, bunions. We can give you advice on appropriate footwear. 

  • If you have excessive foot pronation and therefore abnormal pressure or friction, an Orthotic device may be prescribed to help control abnormal biomechanics and foot posture. 

 

 

Corns and calluses may be a sign that you have an underlying foot disorder, such as a joint that is out of alignment, or excessive foot pronation. This is why it is important to seek professional advice rather than attempt to treat calluses or corns yourself.

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