Patient Education

Corns and Callus

Corns and CallusesCorns and callus are one of the most common problems seen by Podiatrists. They can occur on any part of the foot and vary in symptoms from a mild callus under the foot, to an infected ulcer that can develop under a corn on a toe.

A corn or callus are areas of thickened skin that occur in areas of pressure. They are actually a normal and natural way for the body to protect itself. For example, callus develops on the hand when chopping a lot of wood – it’s a normal way for the skin to protect itself. In the foot, the skin will thicken up to protect itself when there are areas of high pressure. The problem occurs when the pressure continues, so the skin gets thicker. It eventually becomes painful to walk.

Pathologically they are all the same – the skin has thickened in response to pressure. A callus generally refers to a more diffuse thickening of the skin (more common on the toes, but can occur under the ball of the foot) whereas a corn is a thicker more focal area (more common on the toes). A corn can occur under and be surrounded by callus.

Corns and callus are caused by one thing – TOO MUCH PRESSURE, usually in combination with some friction. There is no other way to get them. The pressure stimulates the skin to thicken to protect itself, but as the stimulation of the pressure continues, it becomes painful. Too much pressure can be from footwear that is too tight, or toe deformities, such as hammer toes. The top of the hammer toe is an area for increased pressure on the top of the toe bony prominence

Corns and Callus Treatment

Treatment for Corns and CallusesCorns and callus that are not treated will become painful. They will not come off right on there own unless the pressure that caused them is taken away. If it is not, the skin will continue to thicken and become more painful. After a while, the body will start treating it as a foreign body and an ulcer can develop. This can get infected and the infection can spread. Infection of corns on the toe is more common than a callus.

Corn Pads

Calluses or corns usually 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. Initial treatment generally involves things you can do at home. These include carefully choosing your footwear, using a Ped Egg, an over-the-counter product that debrides the callused layers.
Self-treatment should follow a proper diagnosis of the underlying condition and advice on how to best manage it. Remedies such as corn plasters will generally only treat the symptom of the corn and not the problem that causes it. Cutting corns or calluses yourself (bathroom surgery) is not without its dangers, especially if you cut yourself. In the warm and moist environment of enclosed shoes, an infection can easily develop into a serious wound. Self-treatment or management of corns and callus includes following the advice of a Podiatrist, proper fitting of footwear, and proper foot hygiene and the use of emollients to keep the skin in good condition.
Callus CreamSurgery is rarely used to remove the corns or calluses. But if an underlying bone structure (such as a hammertoe or bunion) is causing a callus or corn, surgery can be used to change or correct the bone structure to alleviate the pressure. This is used only if another treatment has failed.