Many people suffer from painful corns and callus. This can seriously affect the way we walk and may eventually lead to knee, hip and back problems due to protecting the painful foot condition.
Corns are plugs/nuclei of hard skin that develop as a result of friction and pressure either from poorly fitting footwear or some form of foot deformity such as clawed toes, bunions etc. There are three types of corns:
Hard corns (heloma durum) generally found on top of toe joints or underneath metatarsal heads. As the name implies, they can feel like walking with a stone in the shoe.
Seed Corns (heloma millare) generally found in little clumps on the plantar (bottom) surface of the foot usually around the metatarsals but sometimes on the heels and midfoot. As the name implies, they look like small seeds and again can feel like walking with a stone in the shoe.
Soft Corns (heloma molle) exclusively found in-between toe spaces, usually between the 4th and 5th toes. These corns can be very painful and difficult to treat in one session due to the close proximity of toe joints rubbing together, generally padding between the toes and a change of footwear combined with removal of the offending hard skin can be a successful remedy. The name soft corn comes from the macerated (soft and soggy) appearance of the area that doesn’t get chance to dry out due to the closeness of the adjacent toe.
Callus is more of a thickened layer of hard skin, again as a result of friction and pressure but generally over a broader area.
The short term/pain relieving treatment of corns and callus is usually physical removal of the hard skin. Long term relief comes with review and improving style and fit of footwear or with simple insoles that spread the distribution of weight across the foot. Occasionally functional orthotic devices can help if it is necessary to change the biomechanics of the foot.
Other ways of preventing the build up of corns and callus are:
Daily use of a good moisturising cream or emollient (E45, Aqueous, any specific foot cream that suits etc.) to keep the skin hydrated and soft
Stopping smoking, smoking seriously affects the circulation and hence the quality of skin of the feet, we often see heavy smokers in the clinic with much larger and more painful corns than in those who don’t smoke.
Suitable footwear, wearing shoes that allow enough room for the toes to move around without any pressure on them. Unfortunately ladies shoes are not designed with this criteria in mind, however occasional wear of fashionable shoes will not cause major problems. It’s only when they are worn exclusively that long term painful conditions occur.