WHAT IS A CORN?
A corn is a small, thick area of skin that develops as a result of bone pressure or friction against it.¹ That’s why corns are common on the tops and sides of the toes.
There’s a difference between hard and soft corns, and not just for the obvious reason. Hard corns usually occur on the tops, tips and sides of toes.
Corns can press into deeper layers of skin which is what can cause pain, when pressed. You can help alleviate some of this discomfort by using corn plasters. Soft corns tend to occur between the toes and, unfortunately, they can be equally painful. It’s the warmth and moisture in this area that keeps them soft.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CORNS AND CALLUSES
Larger and less defined than corns, calluses can develop anywhere on the body where there is repeated friction. Take a guitar player’s fingertips, for example, or the palms of a busy carpenter.¹
Usually not painful, you can also find calluses on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls.ᴲ You’ll recognise them as patches of hard skin, usually yellowish in colour. This skin will feel thick and can be less sensitive to the touch than the surrounding areas.
WHAT CAUSES CORNS?
There are a number of reasons why corns develop, but one of the most common is wearing shoes that don’t fit properly. Even if your shoes are just a tiny bit too big for you, they can let your foot slide and rub. This friction can lead to corns and calluses.
Certain kinds of shoes will place unnecessary pressure on particular areas of the foot. High-heeled shoes, for example, tend to squeeze your toes together and this can cause corns.
Elderly people have less fatty tissue in their skin which means there is less natural padding on the feet and more chance corns will develop. People with bony feet are more likely to suffer from corns for the same reason.
CORN TREATMENT AT HOME
Many of us take our feet for granted and we probably don’t give them the care and attention they deserve. Perhaps it’s because we don’t see them for most of the day that we tend to overlook them.
That might explain why some people decide to live with their corns, and the pain that goes with them. It can feel a bit like there’s a tiny stone lodged in your shoe that you just can’t get rid of. However, most corns and calluses gradually disappear when the source of the friction or pressure is removed. The good news is you can remove corns on your feet by treating them at home.
For corn removal without scraping, try our new Corn Complete Removal Pen. Using trichloroacetic acid, the pen breaks down the hard skin of corns and removes the corns without scraping.
One other way you can try removing a corn is soaking the area in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, then fling or scraping the area with a pumice stone. Circular or sideways motions will help remove dead skinᴲ, but this method doesn’t always remove the corn at the source.
WHEN YOU SHOULD VISIT THE DOCTOR
Even though most corns and calluses can be treated at home, there are times when you will need to go and see your doctor. If you have diabetes, heart disease or problems with your circulation, for example, then you should book a GP appointment as the corn or callus could be a sign of something more serious.⁴
You should also be wary if the corn or callus is bleeding or if there is pus or any other kind of discharge.⁵ Beyond this, we would recommend checking in with your doctor if the pain is bad enough to stop you going about your normal everyday activities or if the problem hasn’t improved after three weeks of home treatment.⁵
HOW TO HELP STOP CORNS RETURNING
It might not seem so, considering the discomfort they can bring, but corns and calluses can actually be good for you. They are nature’s way of protecting the soft tissue in your foot from damage.⁶ But that’s not to say you shouldn’t make every effort to prevent them from returning in the future.
If you take good care of your feet, then they are more likely to continue to take you wherever you want to go. This is easily done with a few basic steps that can soon become part of your daily routine.
Adopting a two-step regime for looking after your feet will help stop corns and calluses reforming on your feet. The first step is simply to make sure your shoes fit properly. This will help reduce the friction that can lead to corns.
The second thing you can do is make sure your feet are completely dry before you put your shoes on.⁶ Easier said than done, perhaps, when you’re in a hurry to get off to work in the morning, but damp feet can cause friction even if your shoes fit reasonably well. By drying your feet properly, you will be limiting the friction and, as a result, the pressure you’re putting on those vulnerable areas.
Other tips that will help are wearing think, cushioned socks and wide comfortable shoes with a low heel and a soft sole that won’t rub your feet. You might also consider using soft insoles or heel pads in your shoes. Last but by no means least, moisturising your feet regularly is another way to help stop the skin becoming hard and those corns and calluses developing.⁵
ᴲ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172459.php sourced 2019
⁵ https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/corns-and-calluses/ sourced 2019