Corns and Calluses… What are they?

A callus is an area of dead skin production usually under the soles of the feet. These can also be seen on the palms of hands. Corns are very similar to calluses in that they are made up of the same material – keratin. Corns are formed when the pressure causing a callus is very localised. A corresponding dense core of dead skin forms in the centre of the callus as a result of very specific localised pressure.

There are four main types of corns encountered by podiatrists. These include:

  • Hard Corns
  • Soft Corns
  • Seed Corns
  • Neurovascular Corns

Corns and calluses are both simply and excessive buildup of dead skin. Corns generally occur on parts of the skin subjected to excessive pressure or irritation. Consequently, corns and callus may be seen with poor fitting footwear (narrow or tight shoes). However, they may also be seen between toes, on top of toes or on the soles of the feet as a result of poor alignment of the bones of the feet.

What Causes Corns and Calluses?

There is only one cause – excessive pressure/or irritation. Podiatrists realise that this pressure may be the result of:

  • Ill fitting shoes & /or
  • Incorrect foot alignment during walking

How are they treated?

Podiatrists will treat these in two ways. Firstly, the corn/callus is removed. Secondly, the podiatrist will determine the cause of the corn/callus and then offer advice on preventing recurrence of the problem.

Fact:

Corn pads, solutions, plasters or paints containing acid can be dangerous especially if you suffer with diabetes or circulation disorders. For this reason corn removal pads are not recommended.

Following removal of the corn, the podiatrist may determine the cause of the corn/callus to be ill-fitting footwear. Footwear modifications may be needed and advised. This may be in the form of:

  • Increased cushioning
  • Shoe stretching
  • Changing footwear

Corns/callus should be removed professionally by a podiatrist. Never attempt “at home” surgery as cutting deeply or gouging at the centre of a corn can damage healthy tissue, nerves and/or blood vessels. The end result may be infection or scarring.

If the podiatrist determines the cause to be improper balance during walking or standing then the method of prevention may involve:

  • Custom made shoe inserts (orthoses)
  • Padded insoles
  • Manipulation / mobilisation
  • Custom-made footwear

Corns and callus are treated very successfully and can resolve, if you address both the symptom (the corn) and the cause (the pressure/irritation).

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