What causes corns and callus?
Callus is an area of hard skin on the foot caused by pressure or friction. This can be due to deformity, walking pattern or foot wear. Corns form when the pressure is over bone often at the joint. They can be very painful resulting in changes in walking patterns potentially causing problems with hips and knees.
There are different types of corns the most common of which are hard corns (a small concentrated area of hard skin often within a larger area of callus) and soft corns (a small area of whitish, rubbery skin found between the toes). There are also corns that incorporate small blood vessels making them painful and more difficult to treat.
Is it a corn or a verruca?
Corns are painful when you stand on them whereas verrucae are not usually painful. Verrucae often become painful when you squeeze them from the edges. Also the ridges in the skin (the foot’s ‘finger print’) continue through a corn, whereas they appear pushed aside in a verruca.
Why do I get them?
Some people have a greater tendency to develop corns and callus due to their foot type or age. We often lose the fatty cushioning from the ball and heel of our feet as we age making the bones more prominent under the skin surface.
How can I treat corns and callus?
Corns and callus can be debrided in the clinic and orthotic devices made to help cushion feet or separate toes.
Once the callus has been removed moisturising with foot creams containing urea (available from your local pharmacy) can help reduce callus build up. Heel balms contain a higher concentration of urea to foot creams. Care should be taken to avoid using on healthy skin.
Neurovascular and hard corns on otherwise healthy people can be debrided and treated in the clinic with silver nitrate.
Soft corns can be managed by using astringents such as witch hazel or surgical spirit to dry the macerated skin.
Replacing your shoes could help reduce or even eliminate corns and callus.
- If you’re getting corns on the top of your toes due to a hammer toe then make sure your shoes have a deep enough toe box to reduce the pressure.
- If the corn or callus is building up on your little toe check that your shoes are wide enough.
- If the corn or callus is building up on the tips of your toes then your feet could be moving too much in the shoe – making sure the shoe isn’t too big and wearing shoes with laces or adjustable straps can help.