Corns and calluses are one of the most annoying and potentially painful foot disorders that you can develop.
They consist of thickening skin caused by repeated pressure to certain areas of the foot. These affected areas can become inflamed, flaky, and tender to the touch.
They are normally treated chemically with salicylic acid to trim the layers of skin causing pain. For those with poor circulation or diabetes, corn and callus formation can lead to more serious conditions.
Consult with a foot specialist as soon as possible if you have circulation issues and develop calluses.
What are Calluses and Corns?
Frustrating and potentially painful, corns and calluses are thickened areas of skin on the feet that are caused by too much repeated pressure. A CALLUS refers to a more spread out, flattened area of thick skin that does not usually cause pain.
A CORN is a thick, more localized formation of thick skin that usually has a cone or circular shape. Corns, also known as helomas or clavi, sometimes have a dry, clear appearance. Corns can be painful, as they form in areas of high friction and pressure. The skin in a corn becomes very sensitive and prone to pain and inflammation.
Callus and Corn Causes
The main cause of calluses and corns is hyperkeratosis, or the thickening of the skin as a defense mechanism.
When a portion of skin is repeatedly exposed to excessive pressure and friction, the skin makes itself become thicker as to avoid being ruptured. Abnormal anatomy of the feet, including foot deformities and problems with gait can lead to corn or callus formation, as can bony prominences in the feet.
Hammertoe or other toe deformities can lead to callus formation as well due to the bone scraping against the skin.
Footwear that is too short, too tight, or that exerts uneven pressure at specific points can also be a common cause of skin thickening that leads to corns and calluses.
Some of the most common symptoms for calluses and corns include:
- Thick, hard areas of skin
- Scaly, flaky skin
- Clear, translucent patches of skin
- Tenderness to pressure and touch
- Rounded, conical skin formations
Corns and calluses can be differentiated by the look and feel of the skin affected. Corns are slightly more painful and can appear to be clear, while calluses are more rough, white, and flaky, and do not normally cause pain.
Treatment for Calluses and Corns
Most common callous and corn treatments, whether done at home or with a doctor, use the same active ingredient of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid works so well because it breaks down the protein that forms when the skin is trying to harden; keratin. These treatments are safe and gentle enough for anyone to use, and do not require professional assistance.
It generally is recommended that salicylic acid not be used by people with diabetes or when there is frail skin or poor circulation (because of concern about how the skin can heal). In these situations, application of salicylic acid can potentially lead to ulcer formation under the skin. A healthcare professional can help determine whether salicylic acid-based products are right for you.
Do not attempt to cut or shave away corns and calluses at home, as this can lead to a dangerous infection of the surrounding tissues. Schedule a checkup with our respected podiatrist and ensure that your calluses and corns do not persist.