What are Corns and Calluses?

corns and calluses

Treating and Preventing Corns and Calluses

Our feet bear the brunt of all of our daily activity: walking the dog, running to catch the bus, standing at a cash register, dancing like nobody’s watching. All of these activities require you to be on your feet, day in and day out – and sometimes this can cause problems. Among the most common foot ailments are corns and calluses. These areas of thickened skin on feet are caused by extended pressure against the skin. The skin hardens to protect the area from further irritation.1 Corns occur on the top and sides of the feet where there is bone pressure, and calluses form on the bottoms of the feet.2

Why Do We Get Corns and Calluses?

There are several reasons people might develop corns and calluses on their feet. They are relatively common in people who have arthritis or foot deformities like hammertoe, but they can also be caused by ill-fitting or improperly worn shoes. If you wear high heels frequently, or are wearing shoes that have too much wear and tear, it’s likely that your feet will form corns or calluses as a defense mechanism. Corns and calluses are often not painful and may be little more than a nuisance, in which case they are not cause for concern. However, even if they don’t hurt, you should still evaluate the fit and condition of your shoes. If they are poorly fitted enough to cause a corn or callus, they could lead to other foot problems you aren’t aware of yet.

Treatment for Corns and Calluses

When corns and calluses are bad enough to leave you seeking foot pain relief, there are certain measures you can take. If you have an existing foot condition that makes you prone to developing corns or calluses, such as arthritis or hammertoe, you must speak with your podiatrist to determine the best course of action. Your doctor may recommend a custom orthotic. However, if you don’t suffer from those foot ailments, there’s a good chance your shoes are the problem. Before beginning treatment, you should replace the shoes that are creating the issue. Once you’ve replaced any problem shoes, start by applying a lotion or moisturizer to the affected area at least once per day to help soften the skin. Then soak the area in warm water for 5-10 minutes. For removing foot calluses and corns, use a pumice stone to file down the skin on the corn or callus with circular motions, being careful not to remove too much skin to avoid bleeding. While corns and calluses are being treated, use adhesive padding to protect the skin.3

Preventing Corns and Calluses

If you’ve suffered from corns and calluses in the past, here are some techniques you can use to prevent them in the future:

  • Keep your toenails trimmed to avoid putting extra pressure on toes within your shoes.
  • Get fitted at a shoe store to ensure you’re actually wearing the right size and shape shoe.
  • Use a shoe insole for cushioning or a special ball of foot pad to protect vulnerable areas of your feet.

Although they’re unsightly, corns and calluses are normally easily treatable once you remove the source of the pressure on the skin. If yours do not improve, see your doctor for help.

1 http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=1346

2 https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/corns-and-calluses

3 https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/corns-and-calluses