What Are Corns and Calluses?
Corns and calluses are thick layers of skin on your feet that are caused by repeated friction or pressure at the spot where the corn or callus develops. A corn is thickened skin on the top or side of a toe; most of the time it is caused by bad-fitting hoes that you are wearing. A callus is thickened skin on your hands or on the soles of your feet.
Excessive pressure at the balls of the feet can cause calluses to develop, and this is common in many women who wear high heels on a regular basis, as they may then develop calluses on the balls of their feet.
In fact, the thickening of the skin is protective; for example, farmers and rowers get calluses that prevent blisters from forming, and people who get bunions often develop a callus over the bunion because it rubs against the shoe they are wearing. Typically, corns and calluses are not serious medical problems. Nor are they contagious, but they may become painful if they get too thick.
Individuals who have particular deformities of the feet, including hammer toes, are prone to getting corns and calluses. Corns and calluses normally have a dull, rough appearance and may be raised or rounded. They can be hard to differentiate from warts and may or may not cause pain.
Symptoms of Corns and Calluses
There are a variety of symptoms that may point to the development of corns and calluses on the feet. These symptoms include:
- Thick and hardened skin on the feet.
- Flaky and dry skin that develops on the feet.
- Hardened, thick areas that may be rubbed or pressed.
- Areas on the feet that are painful and may bleed.
In the majority of cases, tests are not needed to diagnose these conditions.
The Proper Treatment for Corns and Calluses
- If poor-fitting shoes are causing corns or calluses on your feet, changing to shoes that fit better will help get rid of the problem the majority of the time.
- You can protect the corns on your feet with doughnut-shaped corn pads while they are healing. These can be purchased at most drug stores.
- Calluses frequently occur because of excess pressure that is placed on the skin because of another problem such as bunions or hammertoes. If this other underlying condition is properly treated, calluses should be prevented from returning.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Though the majority of corns and calluses are not serious, there may be times when you may have to contact your physician. People who have diabetes, for example, are more prone to ulcers and infections and should regularly examine their feet to identify any problems right away. In addition, be sure to contact your medical provider right away if you think your corn or callus is not getting better with treatment or if you have any symptoms of pain, redness, warmth or drainage in the area.
Your podiatrist will conduct a thorough examination of your feet and x-rays may be taken of your feet; furthermore, he or she may also want to inspect your shoes and watch you walk. Your podiatrist will also take a complete medical history. If you have mild corns or calluses, your podiatrist may suggest changing your shoes and/or adding padding to your shoes, whereas larger corns and calluses will be most effectively made smaller with a surgical blade, which the podiatrist can use to carefully shave away the thickened, dead skin right in the office. The procedure will be painless because the skin is already dead. Additional treatments may be needed if the corn or callus comes back.
In addition, cortisone injections into the foot or toe may be given if the corn or callus is causing a great amount of pain. Surgery may be needed in cases that do not respond to conservative treatment.