Common skin conditions
Corns and callus are very common skin conditions that affect the feet, often causing pain and difficulties with footwear. Corns or callus are formed as the skin’s natural response to too much pressure or friction during weight bearing. The skin thickens up to protect itself from pressure and blistering.
The Difference Between Corns, Callus and Plantar Warts
A callus is a diffuse, flat thickening of skin whereas a corn has a deeper, hard central core. These skin lesions form in areas of highest pressure on the feet and are usually related to:
- Poorly fitting shoes;
- Toe deformities – eg: claw toes, hammer toes;
- Bunion deformities;
- Moist skin between the toes;
- Abnormal foot posture (eg: flat feet, cavus feet);
- Genetic disorders of the skin.
Corns can sometimes be confused with plantar warts, as they look and feel very similar. Plantar warts have a blood supply and will bleed easily, most corns do not have a blood or nerve supply. A plantar wart is caused by a skin virus (HPV), that is contagious, whereas a corn is due to pressure. It is important to differentiate between these lesions, as they are treated differently.
Many people ask our Podiatrists if corns or callus have roots. Corns and callus are not ‘alive’, so do not have roots and can not be ‘killed’ by chemicals or burnt or frozen off like plantar warts. Because corns and callus are formed due to the result of pressure, the most effective treatment is focused on reducing the pressure on the area.
What is the treatment for corns and callus?
If you have painful corns or callus on your feet, seeking podiatry care for an accurate assessment and appropriate treatment is vital. Podiatrists know feet better than anyone and we treat problems like corns, callus and plantar warts every day. Because corns and callus don’t normally have a nerve supply, having them removed by an experienced Podiatrist doesn’t hurt, requires no anaesthetic or surgery and your pain is relieved significantly before you leave the clinic.
The most important part of treatment for callus or corns is relieving the pressure (or friction) that is causing the lesion to form in the first place:
- choose well-fitting, comfortable footwear that does not cause redness or rubbing on bony prominences on your feet or toes;
- if you have a toe deformity (eg hammer toes, claw toes) your Podiatrist can help to reduce pressure with some simple moulded toe splints;
- toe separators (or even toe socks) can be helpful for corns in between the toes;
- if you have a foot posture problem (eg flat feet, bunion, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction) orthotic therapy can be extremely effective in relieving pressure from the painful corn/callus and redistributing pressure more evenly across the feet.
What can I do at home to reduce the formation of corns and callus?
To reduce the formation of corns and callus you can:
- Apply a urea-based moisturizing cream on a regular daily basis;
- Wear well-fitting enclosed shoes and socks to protect the skin;
- Soak your feet in warm water mixed with Bio-Oil or a moisturizing lotion and then use a pumice stone on the hardened areas of skin.
If you have a complex medical problem (eg diabetes, poor circulation, rheumatoid arthritis etc) it is best that you do not self treat these lesions and seek podiatric care early to reduce the risk of infection, ulceration or even amputation. Our podiatrists are experts in their field, providing painless, effective treatment for corns and callus.