How to Deal with Corns and Calluses
Did you know that an average day of walking subjects your feet to hundreds of tons of force? Despite the fact that your feet are brilliantly designed to withstand the rigors of walking, running, jumping and even standing still for long periods of time, they can still suffer the consequences of injury, stress or irritation. Approximately, 75% of people in the United States will be affected by foot discomfort at some point in their lives.
The skin of your feet in particular is vulnerable to germs and other hazards. In fact, podiatrists frequently see patients who are suffering from foot discomfort that is related to a skin problem. Corns and calluses are at the top of the list of skin issues that affect the feet.
Corns and calluses are thick and hardened layers of skin that develop as part of the bodyâ€™s protective response to continuing pressure and friction. While they can form anywhere on the body, they most often develop on the hands or feet. For example, a rower or guitar player may have calluses on their hands, while someone with ill-fitting shoes will have them on their feet.
Typically seen on the feet, corns and calluses can be distinguished from each other in several ways. Calluses are rough, hard patches of skin that appear slightly yellowish and are usually seen on the ball of your foot or on the heel. Varying in size and shape and lacking well-defined edges, they are not usually painful. Corns, on the other hand, are commonly found on non-weight bearing areas of the feet such as the on the tops and sides of the toes and between the toes. Small cone-shaped bumps of skin with a core that points inward, corns can be painful.
Foot corns and calluses often develop as a direct result of pressure due to:
- Footwear that is tight or ill-fitting as well as high heels, bunched up socks, or going shoeless
- Athletic events that put a lot of pressure on the feet or a lot of walking & running
- Toe deformities that expose an area to increased pressure â€¢ Bony prominences
- Incorrect foot alignment and gait abnormalities
It is always a good idea to consult with your podiatrist about any unusual bumps or lesions on your feet. This is especially important if you are having pain and discomfort that is interfering with your daily activities or if your have diabetes, poor circulation or other serious medical conditions. Your podiatrist is a trained specialist, who will examine your feet to provide you with a precise diagnosis as well as recommendations for care.
While mild corns and calluses may not require treatment, it is a good idea to identify what is causing them to develop and to address this. Properly fitting shoes and padding to relieve the pressure are two self-care measures that can provide relief and improvement. It is important to beware of over the counter remedies that promise to eliminate corns. These products can damage healthy tissue and lead to bigger problems. Likewise, cutting off corns and calluses by yourself can be dangerous and carries a high risk for infection.
When corns and calluses do not resolve and become painful, professional care provided by your podiatrist is essential. Your podiatrist can safely pare down or trim corns and calluses as well as prescribe the appropriate medicated patches and instruct you in the right home care methods for using a pumice stone or emery board to smooth away the thickened, dead skin. In some cases, besides well-fitting footwear or specially designedpadding, custom-made orthotics may also be prescribed to prevent further irritation and recurrence of the corns and calluses. A cortisone injection can be given in situations where persistent pain is present. If conservative treatments are not effective, a surgery may be recommended.
Remember, your podiatrist can help you in all areas related to the health of your feet. Taking steps to be mindful of the comfort and care of your feet are essential to your overall well being.