When most people think of corns,
they recall that painful thickened skin at the bottom of their foot.
So, what exactly is it?
When something presses or rubs on the same spot of skin over time, it can cause areas of thick, hardened skin known as corns or calluses.
Corns usually form at the side of toes or at the bottom of the feet. They look like a bump covered by hardened skin with a hard centre. More often than not, corns cause pain.
On the other hand (pun not intended), calluses are usually thickened rough skin formed on hands or feet. Calluses can sometimes cause bumps, but do not cause pain.
What causes corns and calluses to come about?
Many things in our daily life can cause corns and calluses to occur.
Examples that can cause corns are:
- Putting on shoes without socks
- Wearing shoes that are either too loose or too tight
Examples that can cause calluses are:
- Walking barefooted outdoors
- Using sports equipment (e.g. badminton racket) or tools (e.g. hammer)
Furthermore, having some other conditions such as a bunion (a swelling near the big toe), may also increase the risk of getting corns and calluses as it causes the skin to rub against your footwear.
How can I get rid of it?
Usually, corns or calluses are treated by removing the top layers of the skin and then applying medicine to it. This process is repeated until the entire corn or callus is removed.
The top layers of the skin can be removed using a pumice stone by rubbing it against the diseased skin. The medicine, which works as a keratolytic (i.e. it destroys the hardened skin), softens the skins for easy removal. The content of the medicine is usually salicylic acid at varying concentrations. It comes in the form of a solution where it can be painted onto the corn or callus, or it can also come in the form of a band-aid (more specific for corns) with a patch in the middle that carries the medication.
The process involves removing the hardened skin initially, then applying the medicine for 2-3 days until the next layer of skin is softened, then it can be removed again with the pumice stone. Repeat this until the skin returns to normal.
If you are not sure if the skin condition is a corn or callus, it is prudent to see a doctor or pharmacist to determine that as it may sometimes be confused with a wart.
Your doctor may also suggest removing a corn surgically if it is too severe. Furthermore, if the corn or callus keeps coming back, you might be referred to see a podiatrist (a doctor specializing in feet) to get customize shoes or shoe inserts.
Patients with diabetes should be careful when using the medication in the absence of medical advice as their feet are more prone to infection.
How do I prevent it from happening?
There are certain protective measures that can be taken to prevent the formation of corns.
- Wear proper fitting shoes with socks.
- Do not to walk outdoors without footwear.
- Use cushion pads to reduce rubbing, especially those with bunions.
To prevent callus formation, wear protective gear such are gloves to prevent tools or sports equipment from rubbing against your skin.
- Uptodate.com. (2018). Patient education: Corns and calluses (The Basics). [online] Available at: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/corns-and-calluses-the-basics [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].