What are Corns and Calluses?
Calluses and corns are areas of thick, hardened, dead skin. They form to protect the skin and structures under the skin from pressure, friction, and injury. They may appear grayish or yellowish, be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin, and feel bumpy. Calluses on the hands and feet of an active person are normal. Calluses and corns become a problem when they grow large enough to cause pain.
Calluses on the feet generally form on the ball of the foot, the heel, and the underside of the big toe. They often form where the foot and the beginning of the toe meet (under the end of the metatarsal bone).Corns generally are found where toes rub together. Corns have an inner core that can be soft or hard. A soft corn is found between toes (usually the fourth and fifth toes). A hard corn is often found over a bony part of a toe (usually the fifth toe).
What Causes Corns and Calluses?
Calluses and corns are caused over a period of time by repeated pressure or friction on an area of skin. The pressure causes the skin to die and form a hard, protective surface. A soft corn is formed in the same way, except that when perspiration is trapped where the corn develops, the hard core softens. This generally occurs between toes. Calluses and corns are not caused by a virus and are not contagious. There are many reasons why Corns and Calluses form on the feet here are a few:
Tight shoes squeeze the foot.
High-heeled shoes squeeze the front part of the foot.
Loose shoes may cause your foot to slide and rub against the shoe.
Shoes with a thin sole can create more pressure on the ball of the foot when walking than do thicker-soled shoes.
Wearing sandals and shoes without socks can lead to increased friction.
The foot may rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe. Socks that don't fit may result in pressure where a sock bunches up.
How Are Corns and Calluses Diagnosed?
Calluses and corns generally are diagnosed during a physical exam. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your work, your hobbies, or the types of shoes you wear. An X-ray of the foot may be done if your doctor suspects a problem with the bones.
How Are Corns and Calluses Treated?
If you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy, or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness, talk to your doctor before you try any treatment for calluses or corns.
Calluses and corns do not need treatment unless they cause pain. If they do cause pain, the treatment goal is to remove the pressure or friction that is causing the callus or corn, to give it time to heal. This is done by wearing footwear that fits properly and using doughnut-shaped pads (such as moleskin) or other protective padding to cushion the callus or corn. Some other types of padding include toe separators, toe crest pads, and toe caps and toe sleeves. Also, the callus or corn can be softened and the dead skin can be removed by using products such as salicylic acid.
Your doctor may use a small knife to pare (trim) the callus or corn. You may reduce the size of the callus or corn yourself by soaking your foot in warm water and then using a pumice stone to rub the dead skin away. Never cut the corn or callus yourself, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness. In some cases, surgery may be done to remove the callus or corn or to change the bone structure beneath the callus or corn.
How Common Are Corns and Calluses?
Most people get calluses and corns. They are seen more frequently in people who have bony feet and in women, probably because women often wear shoes that create friction on the feet, such as high-heeled or thin-soled shoes.