What are corns and calluses?
They are thick, hard layers of skin that develop when the skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. The body produces extra skin for protection. A corn is a buildup of skin that develops on parts of your skin that do not bear weight such as on top of the toe and are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by inflammed skin. Corns can be painful when pressed. Calluses usually develop on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls. When calluses become thicker they become painful when walking and wearing shoes. If you are healthy, you need treatment for corns and calluses only if they cause discomfort. For most people, corns and calluses disappear when the source of friction or pressure is eliminated. If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you are at a greater risk of complications from corns and calluses. If left untreated the skin can break down and causes an open wound.
What causes corns and calluses?
Corns and calluses are caused by an underlying boney deformity such as a bunion, hammertoe, bone spur, flatfeet, high arched feet, ball of foot pain and a foreign body. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can also cause corns and calluses. Tight shoes and high heels can compress areas of the foot. Also when footwear is too loose, the foot may repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. The foot may also rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe. Wearing shoes and sandals without socks can cause friction as well as socks that do not fit properly.
What are symptoms of corns and calluses?
You may have a corn or callus if you notice a thick rough area of skin, a hardened raised bump, tenderness or pain under your skin and flaky, dry or waxy skin. Corns can be painful when pressed and calluses are rarely painful.
How do you diagnose corns and calluses?
Corns and calluses are typically diagnosed by a physical exam. Dr. Fihman will examine your feet and rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts. An X-ray is recommended to see if a physical abnormality is causing the corn or callus.
Treatment of corns and calluses
Recommended treatment options are sharp removal of the callus or corn by a doctor. Over the counter medications can burn the healthy skin and cause more damage. Other treatments include padding, modifying shoe wear, custom molded orthotics and surgical correction of the underlying boney condition.