Corns are hardened areas of skin that are the result of constant rubbing and pressure placed on specific areas of the body, most commonly the feet. These areas can become painful and bothersome for some people.
Corns and calluses are skin that becomes thick and hardened. These areas of skin may also appear flaky and dry at times. These hardened, thick skin areas are most often found on a person’s hands, feet and other areas of the body that may suffer from being consistently rubbed or pressed.
Typically corns and calluses are caused when a person subjects certain areas of their skin to pressure or friction from consistent use. Corns are usually skin that thickens on the top or side of a toe. A common cause for this happening is shoes that do not fit the person’s foot properly. Calluses are areas of thickened skin that develop on the hands or the soles of a person’s feet. This typically occurs from performing physical labor tasks.
The thickening of the skin occurs as a protective reaction to help prevent the development of blisters that can be painful and troublesome. People who have bunions on their feet most times will develop a callus over the bunion due to the bunion sticking out and rubbing against the shoe.
Whenever a person consistently subjects parts of their body to repetitive rubbing or pressure, the possibility of developing corns or calluses is present. There are certain things that do put people at a higher risk factor for developing a corn or calluses. This includes:
- Age – As a person ages, their feet tend to become wider and flatter. The soles of their feet also tend to lose fat on the padding of their soles. This the feet to fit improperly in the shoe and allows for rubbing to occur. These problems also lead to improper pressure being put on areas of the feet that will cause skin to harden and thicken up.
- Cosmetic Foot Surgery – When a person has cosmetic surgery performed on their feet for situations such as to be able to fit into dress shoes easier, or to reduce the size of a person’s foot, this can lead to foot problems. Since the foot is designed to support a person on various pressure areas of the foot, reducing the size of a foot can throw the body’s sense of balance points off. This will lead to the foot having added pressure points in areas that it is not use to leading to the development of calluses and corns.
- Gender – Studies that have been conducted show that women are at a higher risk of developing corns on their feet. This is normally due to the types of shoes women tend to wear. This is also a result of women wearing a variety of different types of shoes for dress, exercise and causal wear without allowing their feet to adjust to just one or two different pairs of shoes.
- Occupational Risk Factors – The type of job and the environment in which a person works has a lot to do with their risk of developing corns. A person that is on their feet a lot or who perform a great deal of physical labor are at a greater risk of developing corns and calluses than someone who sit’s at a desk for the majority of their work shift. One example of this is a farmer who spends their time tending to their crops. Almost one hundred percent of their job requires physical labor. They develop corns and calluses to help prevent painful blisters from occurring.
- Pregnancy - Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing corns and calluses because of the additional pressure placed on their feet that is not normal. The feet have specific points that it is used to receiving the majority of the pressure through regular wear and this is thrown off during a pregnancy.
- Sports and Activities – Since the majority of sports and extracurricular activities, such as dancing, require a person to spend a great deal of time on their feet while being active. These activities increase the likelihood of your feet and other parts of the body to experience extensive pressure and rubbing, causing corns and calluses to develop.
- Weigh Gain and Obesity - People who have gained weight or who suffer from obesity are at an increased risk of developing corns and calluses because of the extra pressure that they are putting their feet under to support the extra weight.
Corns can be very painful. There are cures to help remove corns that have developed. However, there is no guarantee that corns will not return or develop in another area. The best thing to do is prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips and techniques to help reduce the chances of developing corns.
Wear socks that are clean and dry. Providing continued moisture to your skin can erode the skin’s natural toughness. This is when corns will develop. Socks lock in moisture to the foot without allowing them to breathe. Wear socks continuously also contributes to foot odor and conditions such as athlete’s feet.
Shoes should not be worn indoors. Unless you are wearing a special corrective foot wear for a orthopedic problem, you should try to go bare foot around your home as much as possible. This gives your feet a break from the constant pressure and rubbing that occurs when wearing shoes.
Shoes With a Natural Curve
Shoes that come to a point, are thin or straight in design or that have a flat foot appearance, are more likely to cause rubbing and unnatural pressure points to your feet when wearing them. This can lead to the development of corns.
Do not wear shoes that are tight in the toes. Shoes that have a tight fit in toe area will definitely rub against the inside of the toe the entire time they are worn. This will result in a corn developing on the toes. Opt for wider toe shoes that allow for comfort and are natural fitting.
Check inside seams of shoes. If shoes have inside seams, make sure that they will not rub against the toe while wearing. Shoes that do not have protruding seams are less likely to contribute to developing corns. The more padding the better. When purchasing shoes, look for styles that have extra padding to help create a buffer for your feet and toes. When your foot settles into this buffer, it will maintain its natural position and result in less rubbing and pressure. You will also want to pay special attention to the ball of the foot and the back of the heel area. This is a common place for corns to develop.
Talk to a podiatrist about inserts. If you are unable to find shoes that fit your feet properly, talk to a podiatrist about getting inserts for your shoes. There are special pads, shoe inserts and wedges that can be specially made to your foot’s natural design to help eliminate the chances of developing corns as well as other painful foot conditions.
Surgery may be necessary. If you are unable to deal with the pain of an existing corn or you have a severe deformity of the foot, you may need to speak with a podiatrist about surgical treatments that are available that can help you deal with painful corns. This should always be a last resort when dealing with corns.
Test and Diagnosis Considerations
When diagnosing a corn, doctors and medical professionals will perform a visual inspection of the area and provide you with treatment options. They may inform you of some medicines or supplies available to treat corns. Doctors may even discuss surgical options that you have to remove the corn.
There are many treatment options available to help patients deal with corns. There are medicines and over the counter medical supplies, surgical options that can be performed by a surgeon and countless natural remedies and cures available to try. Here are some of the options that a person has to help deal with painful corns.
Medicines and Over The Counter Medical Supplies
Special pads that are designed to place over the corn can be purchased over the counter. These pads can help to prevent future rubbing and pressure to the corn. Some varieties of pads available are medicated, meaning that they have an acid medication designed into the pad itself to help dissolve the hard tissue of the corn. This does help, but the medicine itself can harm good skin as well as the corn if it is not positioned correctly on the corn.
Shoe padding and shoe inserts are available. These products are meant to act as a bunting for your foot, allowing it to cradle around your foot and mold it into place to prevent rubbing and pressure points.
Over the counter acid medications are available. This usually comes in a liquid or gel form and is meant to be applied to the corn to soften the toughened skin. This should not be used by people who have problems that do not allow them good feeling in their feet areas. This is also not a recommended option for a person with pre-existing health problems like diabetes.
There are specially designed tools available to help shave away the tough skin of a corn. These tools are not recommended for people who have a decreased ability to fight off infections or who do not heal well, such as diabetics.
Pumice stones are a great over the counter option when trying to eliminate a corn. Soak your feet for approximately 20 minutes. Rub the pumice stone over the corn until you have removed as much dead and dried skin as possible. Continue this method for as many days as needed without making the area around the corn raw. Diabetics should not use pumice stones because of the chances of breaking the skin and causing infection.
Surgeons can cut off the corn or callused area to help eliminate the pain. If the corn is caused by a toe that is not straight, surgeons can straighten the crooked bone to help reduce the likelihood that it will return. If the corn is the result of a toe that is too long or too short and causes rubbing, surgeons can help to shorten the bone or lengthen the toe using cosmetic surgery on the feet.
Doctors can burn the corn off using a medical acid treatment, similar to the treatment used for the removal of warts.
Natural Cures and Remedies
Fill a basin or tub that can be used to soak your feet in, with as hot of water as you can stand without getting scalded. Pour in about half a cup of Epsom salt into the water filled basin or tub. Soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Continue this treatment for approximately one week. During the time of treatment, avoid wearing socks and shoes as much as possible.
Dip a cotton swab into castor oil and apply to the corn. Using medical adhesive tape, tape the cotton swab to the corn and allow it set over night. Continue this process for one week and you should begin to notice a big difference in your corn.
Some patients claim that if you tie a slice of lemon over the corn and leave it there over night you will get results.
Grind three or four licorice sticks and mix with half a teaspoon of sesame oil or mustard oil until a paste like substance forms. Apply this paste to the corn and leave on overnight. This will gradually soften the skin and reduce the size of the corn.
Grind chalk into a powder and mix with a small amount of water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the hardened corn and leave on overnight. This will soften the corn and shrink the size of it.