The Bump of Corns and Calluses

Symptoms and diagnosis for Corns and Calluses
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

What are Corns and Calluses?

Corns generally occur at pressure points, typically the bottom of the feet and the sides of toes. They can be painful.

A hard corn is a small patch of thickened, dead skin with a central core. A soft corn has a much thinner surface and usually occurs between the 4th and 5th toes. A seed corn is a tiny, discrete callous that can be very tender if it’s on a weight-bearing part of the foot. Seed corns tend to occur on the bottom of the feet, and some doctors believe this condition is caused by plugged sweat ducts.

Calluses are thickenings of the outermost layer of the skin  and are painless. They can develop on hands, feet, or anywhere there is repeated friction — even on a violinist’s chin. Like corns, calluses have several variants. The common callus usually occurs when there’s been a lot of rubbing against the hands or feet. A plantar callus is found on the bottom of the foot.

What causes Corns?

Pressure and friction from repetitive actions cause corns and calluses to develop and grow. Some sources of this pressure and friction include:

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes. Tight shoes and high heels can compress areas of your feet. When footwear is too loose, your foot may repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. Your foot may also rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.
  • Skipping socks. Wearing shoes and sandals without socks can cause friction on your feet. Socks that don’t fit properly also can be a problem.
  • Playing instruments or using hand tools. Calluses on your hands may result from the repeated pressure of playing instruments, using hand tools or even writing.

 

These factors may increase your risk of corns and calluses:

  • Bunions. A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe.
  • Hammertoe. A hammertoe is a deformity in which your toe curls like a claw.
  • Other foot deformities. Certain conditions, such as a bone spur, can cause constant rubbing inside your shoe.
  • Not protecting your hands. Using hand tools without wearing gloves exposes your skin to excessive friction.

“Corns and calluses are hard, painful areas of skin that often develop on the feet in response to pressure or friction.”

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What types of diagnosis?

In most cases, our specialist can diagnose a corns and calluses with one or more of these techniques:

  • Our specialist can diagnose a by its looks alone. A callus is hard, dry, and thick. It may feel bumpy and appear grayish or yellowish. It may be less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin.
  • A hard corn is also firm and thick with a soft yellow ring and gray center. A soft corn looks like an open sore.
  • Skin biopsy may be necessary to exclude other similar conditions.
  • X-rays can be used to detect any underlying bony abnormalities that cause abnormal pressure on the overlying skin. For this purpose, a plain x-ray is usually enough, but rarely CT scanning may be necessary.

Possible treatment methods?

Treatment for corns and calluses usually involves avoiding the repetitive actions that caused them to develop. You can help resolve them by wearing properly fitting shoes, using protective pads and taking other self-care measures.

If a corn or callus persists or becomes painful despite your self-care efforts, medical treatments can provide relief:

  • Trimming away excess skin. Our doctor can pare down thickened skin or trim a large corn with a scalpel, usually during an office visit. Don’t try this yourself because it could lead to an infection.
  • Callus-removing medication. Our Specialist may also apply a patch containing 40 percent salicylic acid. He will let you know how often you need to replace this patch. He may recommend that you use a pumice stone, nail file or emery board to smooth away dead skin before applying a new patch. You can also get a prescription for salicylic acid in gel form to apply on larger areas.
  • Shoe inserts. If you have an underlying foot deformity, our doctor may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts to prevent recurring corns or calluses.
  • Surgery. In rare instances, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the alignment of a bone causing friction.

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