What are Corns and Calluses?
Corns and callus’s are hard, thickened patches of skin which typically appear on your feet and are very common. Corns are small, usually round areas of thick skin on bony areas which lack cushioning. Calluses are often larger, hard patches of skin found usually on the ball of the foot or heels. These are often yellowish in colour and you might find that you have less sensitivity to touch in these areas. Corns and calluses are often painless, however over an extended period of time or in a particularly sensitive point on your foot they can become painful. If darkened areas of bruising start for form under the hardened skin, this is a sign of too much pressure and this needs to be removed by a podiatrist to prevent further complications, especially if you are diabetic or immunocompromised.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Calluses are hard, yellowed, thickened shin found on the side of the big and little toes, calls of feet and around the edges of your heels which can sometimes cause a burning sensation when it builds up too much. Sometimes there are visible red dots when the pressure builds up too much and causes the underlying blood vessels to burst. Corns are usually a pinpoint area of this hard skin over a bony area on your foot which can be painful on direct palpation. Everyone can get corns and calluses, however they are extremely frequent in the elderly who lose fatty tissue on their feet and skin flexibility. They are also found frequently in people who work on their feet.
Why do I have them?
Corns and calluses are often caused by inappropriate footwear or abnormalities in foot structure. They can also be caused by abnormalities in walking patterns or movement which change the pressures when mobilising to specific areas. They usually arise later in life when there is loss of the protective fatty pad over the bones of the foot.
How can I treat my Corns and Calluses?
Corns and calluses should be predominantly treated by a podiatrist or a qualified podiatry assistant using sterile instruments. In between times, pumice stones and foot files can help removed callus as well as thorough urea based moisturiser. In addition to this, suitable footwear or foot orthotics can assist with taking the pressure of areas of high pressure. Special padding devices and materials may be available only from your podiatrist for your use at home.
Extreme caution must be taken when using corn pads from the chemist as some of these pads contact acid which is used to soften a corn, however when used for an extended period of time it can burn the skin causing wounds, infections or ulcers. These are NOT recommended for people with diabetes, poor blood supply, loss of sensation in the feet or who are immunocompromised. For professional, safe and effective removal of corns it is best to see a podiatrist.
Eventually, you may desire corrective foot surgery by a foot surgeon to straighten curled or contracted toes for corns or elevate and shorten metatarsals for calluses. Often such surgery represents a short-term inconvenience to your lifestyle, but will not require any lengthy period of rest or inactivity. Many satisfied patients have remarked that surgery to remove the bone beneath the corn hurts less the very next day than on a painful day walking in their shoes with the corn present.