I have painful corns... anytime I put on shoes it really hurts. I am struggling to run or walk home from the train.
As a podiatrist, I see and treat corns and calluses on a daily basis. Lets have a look at how and why our bodies create calluses and corns.
Calluses are hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour. They can develop on your foot, most often around the heel area or on the skin under the ball of the foot. They can also develop on the palms of the hands and knuckles.
Calluses are larger than corns and do not have such a well defined edge. As callused skin is thick, it is often less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin. Calluses develop when the skin rubs against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground. They often form over the ball of your foot because this area takes most of your weight when you walk. This is particularly the case when high heels are worn regularly. Excessive pressure on bony areas of the foot, badly fitting shoes, dry skin and reduced fatty padding are all possible causes of calluses.
Corns are small circles of thick skin that usually develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot. However, they can occur anywhere. Corns are often caused by wearing shoes that fit poorly or certain designs that place excessive pressure on an area of the foot. Corns often occur on bony feet as there’s a lack of natural cushioning. They can also develop as a symptom of another foot problem, such as:
· a bunion – where the joint of the big toe sticks outwards as the big toe begins to point towards the other toes on the same foot
· hammer toe – where the toe is bent at the middle joint
How do we treat corns and calluses in the clinic?
Corns on feet will not get better unless the cause of the pressure is removed. If the cause is not removed, the skin could become thicker and more painful over time. A corn is a symptom of an underlying problem. You should only treat it yourself when you know what has caused it and after you have spoken to a specialist about the best way to manage it.
Over-the-counter treatments for corns, such as corn pads, are available from pharmacists. However, they do not treat the cause of the corn and may affect the normal, thinner skin surrounding the corn. Corn pads may not be suitable for certain people, such as those with diabetes, circulation problems or fragile skin due to their mechanism of action.
As with corns, you should only treat calluses yourself after a podiatrist has identified the cause and advised you about treatment. Our Podiatrists are able to treat corns or badly callused areas using a sharp blade to remove the thickened area of skin. This is painless and should help reduce pain and discomfort. They can also provide advice on self-care and prescribe special insoles if required.
Best Advice for treating at home
· Wear comfortable shoes and socks. When footwear fits properly, there is less opportunity for friction and rubbing to occur.
· Soak your feet in warm, soapy water to help remove corns and calluses. Rub the thickened skin with a pumice stone to remove toughened layers more easily.
· Keeping your feet moisturized with foot cream or lotion will help improve the quality of your skin and rid your feet from calluses or corns.
Recommended plan for safe and thorough removal of a corns or calluses
· Routine 4-6 weekly visits with your podiatrist until resolved
· Your skin (skin cells) goes through three stages of healing over 90 days
o Repair/Inflammatory Phase (0-3 weeks)
o Regeneration/Proliferation Phase (3-6 weeks)
o Maturation/Re-Modelling Phase (6-12 weeks)
· It is important to see and treat the corn in the Regeneration/Proliferation phase
o This allows time for the skin to heal
o Treats and removes the damaged skin cells before they mature
o Promotes more healthy tissue growth through the skin
· Identify the causes of the calluses/corns
o Remove tight footwear
o Reduce pressure through the area via offloading/padding/taping