Corns and Calluses
Your body has an assortment of tricks up its sleeve to heal itself and provide protection from dangerous situations. When you consider everything your body can do in these regards, it’s rather remarkable. Your body is able to mend broken bones, fight off foreign viruses, and clot blood to prevent loss.
Sometimes these efforts lead to unintended consequences, such as when additional bone tissue is developed that becomes a painful heel spur. Another example is when corns and calluses lead to discomfort or even pain.
Understanding Calluses and Corns
The average person is quite familiar with calluses, whether they can be found on palms due to manual labor, fingertips from practicing the guitar, or the feet from running great distances. Calluses are simply hardened, compacted layers of dead skin that your body develops to protect itself from excessive friction or pressure. Corns are basically the same thing, except they have an inner core that might be soft from sweat being trapped when it formed.
It is important to note that corns and calluses do not cause pain in and of themselves. If you have either on the bottom of your foot and you rest the barefoot on an ottoman, you would not be able to feel it. The problem, though, is that when pressure is applied to corn or callus you will likely experience pain.
Know the Causes and Risk Factors
Repetitive actions that create friction and pressure on your skin will cause a callus or corn to develop and grow. Sources of this friction and pressure include ill-fitting shoes and forgoing socks. Ill-fitting footwear is responsible, or contributes to, a tremendous array of foot and ankle conditions. Shoes that are tight and have high heels can compress your foot and result in constant irritation from the pressure. On the other side of the coin, footwear that is too loose can cause your foot to repeatedly rub against the inside of the shoe as it slides around. Socks provide the cushioning that a corn or callus will attempt to replace if it isn’t there, so you are best making sure to wear them with your shoes.
Various foot conditions and deformities can increase the likelihood of developing a corn or callus on your foot, including bunions, hammertoes, and a bone spur. Bunions protrude to the inner edge of the foot, right at the joint where the big toe connects. They may cause a callus or corn as a result of rubbing against the inside of footwear. Hammertoes lead to friction from the top of the inside of the shoe and heel spurs result in excess pressure on the back of the foot.
Straightforward Diagnosis and Treatment
Corns and calluses are pretty straightforward with regard to diagnosis. A simple examination is sufficient for ruling out other potential conditions like cysts or warts. The only reason an X-ray might be used is to find out if a physical abnormality is responsible for your corn or callus.
Treatment for these growths begins at home by avoiding activities (when possible) that caused them in the first place. Replacing ill-fitting footwear with shoes that fit properly, trying protective pads, and other self-care methods might correct the condition.
If you have tried home treatment options, but without success, and need professional help there are several techniques that can be used. We can debride the thickened skin in-office with the use of a scalpel (something that should not be attempted at home). Callus creams with an exfoliating agent and a pumice stone may be able to help and we will provide instructions in the use of either method. Orthotics (custom-made medical inserts) can serve to prevent recurring calluses or corns. With some cases surgery to correct the alignment of a bone responsible for the excessive friction may be the best form of treatment.
Don’t let pain from corns and calluses interfere with your daily life! When the pain and discomfort is simply too much, South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic is here for you. Call our Spokane, WA office by calling (509) 747-0274 to request an appointment or use our online form to contact us right now.