Corns and calluses are hard, thick layers of skin that form over time as the affected area tries to protect itself from irritation through friction or pressure. They are most common on the extremities (i.e. hands, feet, fingers, and toes). Though they do have a potentially useful function, the unsightly appearance makes them generally unwelcome. It must also be noted that, though generally seen in an interchangeable manner, calluses and corns are actually different from one another.
What is a Callus?
Calluses are identifiable by the pain they generally cause. They are most common on the soles of the feet, palms of the hand, or even on knees. The size and shape tends to vary, but they are almost always larger than corns.
Calluses feel quite rough and hardened. Any area of skin that has been subjected to regular friction might form calluses over time. There are several different varieties as well, such as the common callus and the plantar callus.
What is a Corn?
Corns are identified by a hardened center that is usually surrounded by inflammation of the skin. They are usually found on the feet in areas that don't bear weight, including in between and on top of the toes. They aren't exclusive to those areas by any means, however. Though not inherently painful, corns do tend to hurt if they're pressed.
Corns can be either soft or hard. The hard variety is comprised of thick, dead skin that generally surrounds a somewhat softer area in the center. Soft corns are thinner overall, with a white and almost rubber-like appearance. There is also a third variety that's fairly common: seed corns. These are actually clusters comprised of several smaller corns. These are incredibly tender, especially if they occur on a weight bearing area of the foot. It's generally accepted that seed corns are caused by backed up sweat ducts.
If you have corns or calluses that seem especially painful or inflamed, it's best to consult with a podiatrist rather than ignore the issue. You should be wary of treating them yourself, especially if you are diabetic or have otherwise poor blood flow. If you happen to injure yourself while trying to remove a corn or callus, the open wound could easily result in an infected open sore.
Most Common Causes
One of the most common causes of calluses and corns alike are wearing shoes that are too small or laced up too tightly. High heels also put a lot of pressure on the feet. In all of these instances, the feet are being compressed. On the other hand, shoes that are too loose cause them to rub against the sides and heel of the feet, easily leading to irritation.
Shoes with pronounced seams or stitching on the inside can also easily present problems, even if they're worn properly. Wearing shoes or sandals without any socks on can also cause a lot of friction. Socks that are too tight are also problematic.
Calluses on the hands are often caused by repetitive acts such as playing instruments or writing. Interestingly, many guitarists actually favor developing calluses on their fingers since they can help make bending the strings much easier.
The usual treatment for corns and calluses is to stop whatever repetitive action may have led to them. It's also useful to find properly fitting shoes and socks. Adding additional protective insoles is often a good idea for those that have uncomfortable calluses and corns on the soles of their feet.
In severe cases, it's always best to see a podiatrist. One of their most frequently used methods of treatment is to thin out the thickened areas of skin with a scalpel. Do not try to do this yourself since a wrong move can easily lead to issues such as infection or even excess bleeding.
In some instances, a patch containing salicylic acid must be applied to the affected area. You can find the same substance in many of the callus remover products sold in stores. These are often available without the need of a prescription. It is best to consult with a doctor first, however. They can help you determine if this form of treatment is necessary, as well as how long and how often you will need to implement it.
Podiatrists often suggest pumice stones or emery boards to help remove dead skin safely. This is often used in tandem with one of the salicylic acid patches for the most effective treatment possible. Antibiotic ointments are also often suggested so that you can reduce the chance of an infection.
Anyone with diabetes, foot deformities, or any health condition in which the blood flow is hindered needs to see a podiatrist before any sort of corn or callus treatment is attempted. For everyone else, if you do feel it necessary to attempt treating yourself, make sure to soak the affected area first and be incredibly careful with any treatment method you choose.
As always, you can call Midwest Podiatry Centers to schedule an appointment at (612) 248-8423 or request an appointment online.
Angela Dorris is a professional in the beauty industry and the owner and manufacturer of Enji Happy Care and Enji Prime – effective callus removal systems for your feet. Learn more about these amazing products and discover effective tips for obtaining beautiful feet by visiting Enji-Prime.com.