Corns and Calluses
Corns and Calluses
Don't Let Calluses and Corns Slow You Down: Tips from a Podiatrist
Calluses and corns are common foot conditions that can cause discomfort and pain. They are often caused by repetitive friction or pressure on the skin, usually from ill-fitting shoes or excessive walking or standing.
What are Calluses and Corns?
Calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that form on the feet, usually on the soles or heels. They are typically yellow in colour due to multiple layers of skin build up and may feel hard - like a rock! Calluses are often caused by friction or pressure on the skin, such as from wearing shoes that are too tight or from walking or standing for long periods of time. They may feel tender or sore if they get too thick. In some cases, calluses may even develop small cracks or fissures, which can be painful and increase the risk of infection.
Corns are similar to calluses in that they are also thick, hardened areas of skin that form on the feet. However, corns are typically smaller and more localized than calluses. They often have a central core that can be painful to the touch. Corns are most commonly found on weight-bearing areas or on the side of bony toes. Like calluses, treatment for corns usually involves removing the thickened skin.
The main risk factors for developing corns and calluses include:
- Ill-fitting shoes: Shoes that are excessively tight or too loose can generate friction and pressure on the skin, resulting in the growth of corns and calluses.
- High-pressure regions: High-pressure areas of the foot, such as the soles and heels, are more susceptible to developing calluses. Corns are also more prone to form on weight-bearing regions or bony prominences on the foot, such as the toes.
- Excessive walking or standing: Prolonged walking or standing can increase friction and pressure on the feet, resulting in the growth of corns and calluses.
- Age: As we become older, the skin on our feet thins and loses suppleness, leaving us more prone to developing corns and calluses.
- Foot Deformity: Certain foot abnormalities can increase pressure on certain parts of the foot, resulting in the development of corns and calluses. Examples include hammertoes and bunions.
- Lack of sensitivity in the feet: Diseases like peripheral neuropathy can result in diminished sensation in the feet, making it harder to feel friction or pressure that might cause corns and calluses to grow.
Signs and symptoms of Corns and Calluses
- Thick, hardened areas of skin: Corns and calluses are both characterized by thickened, hardened patches of skin that often form on the foot. Calluses are often bigger with a more dispersed pattern, whereas corns are smaller with a more definite core.
- Pain or discomfort: Corns and calluses can cause pain or discomfort, especially if they become excessively thick or if pressure is applied to the afflicted region.
- Yellow or discolored skin: Dead skin cells can cause the skin around a corn or callus to appear yellow or discolored.
- Cracked or fissured skin: Corns and calluses can become cracked or fissured in some circumstances, which can be uncomfortable and increase the risk of infection.
- Changes in gait or posture: When corns or calluses cause pain or discomfort, people may change their stride or posture to avoid placing pressure on the afflicted region. This might put extra strain on other parts of the body, such as the knees and hips.
Corns and calluses can be identified by a podiatrist by physically inspecting the feet. The podiatrist will assess for the thicker skin on the feet and may palpate the problematic region to feel for discomfort or soreness.
The podiatrist may occasionally use a specific instrument called a dermoscope to inspect the problematic region. A dermoscope is a portable instrument that provides a clear view of the skin and any underlying tissues through the use of magnification and polarized light.
1. Debridement: It is a podiatric procedure performed by a podiatrist, and involves using specialized tools such as a scalpel to gently shave away the dead skin and callus buildup. The podiatrist may also use topical medications to soften the affected area before debridement. The goal of the procedure is to reduce the size of the corn and calluses, as well as to relieve pressure on the affected area.
2. Foot Orthosis: Your podiatrist may also recommend prescription medical insoles to improve pressure offloading on bony areas of the foot that may be more likely to develop such calluses and corns. This will slow down the development of corns and calluses, providing a longer-term solution for the management of such conditions.
3. Foot Cream: Urea-based foot creams or emollients can help to effectively soften the skin and decrease the likelihood of cracking or fissures. They are also known to be well-absorbed, which is particularly useful for keeping the foot adequately moisturized. Podiatrists often advise patients to apply these creams at least twice a day to maintain optimal hydration levels in the feet.
Here are some ways that a person can prevent corns and calluses on their feet through daily habits:
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and provide ample support
- Use foot pads or inserts to help distribute pressure evenly on the foot
- Avoid wearing high-heeled or tight-fitting shoes for extended periods of time
- Moisturize feet regularly to prevent dryness and cracking
- Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove dead skin from the feet.
Seek medical attention if experiencing pain or discomfort, or if corns and calluses persist despite home remedies.
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