What are Corns & Callus?

What are Corns & Callus?

Surgery under local anaesthesia
Hard Skin, we all experience this at some point but what exactly causes it and how should we prevent it?
It is no surprise that as your feet take the entire weight of your body, they are placed under extreme pressure. Just walking or standing, our body weight is carried first on the heel and then on the ball of the foot, where the skin is thicker to withstand the extra pressure. When this pressure becomes excessive, some areas of skin thicken in the form of corns and callus, as a protective response to the body’s reaction to the friction of skin rubbing against a bone, shoe or the ground, it’s natures way of preventing further injury. Runners experience this even more so, due to the extreme pressure placed on the feet and bones.
Callus is an extended area of thickened, hard skin on the soles of the feet. It is usually symptomatic of an underlying problem such as a bony deformity, a particular style of walking or inappropriate footwear. Some people have a natural tendency to form callus because of their skin type. Elderly people have less fatty tissue in their skin and this can lead to callus forming on the ball of the foot.
Corns are caused by pressure or friction over bony areas, such as a joint, and they have a central core which develops at the main point of pressure and is deeper therefore may cause pain if it presses on a nerve.
There are five different types of corns, the most common of which are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ corns:
Hard corns – these are the most common and appear as a small area of concentrated hard skin up to the size of a small pea usually within a wider area of thickened skin or callus. This may be a symptom of the feet or toes not functioning properly, so it is advised to get this checked and have the biomechanics of your gaif analysed.
Soft corns – these develop in a similar way to hard corns but they are whitish and rubbery in texture and appear between toes where the skin is moist from sweat or from inadequate drying after showers/baths etc.  These are particularly tricky to treat by yourself so a combination of Podiatry care and some daily attention at home can make all the difference.
Seed corns – these are tiny corns that tend to occur either singly or in clusters on the bottom of the foot and are usually painless but can develop into painful corns.  Simple home treatments such as daily moisturising can keep these at bay.  If necessary you’re Podiatrist can guide you on the best moisturiser for your skin type.
Neuro-Vascular corns – these can be very painful as there are nerves and capillaries present and can bleed if cut, your Podiatrist can apply treatments to these corns to manage the pain level and allow more thorough treatment.  You can always discuss the use of local anaethestics as our Podiatrists are qualified to administer these.
Fibrous corns – these arise when corns have been left for a long time and are more firmly attached to the deeper tissues than any other type of corn. They may also be painful, but we offer local anaesthetics where necessary to help make the treatment effective and manageable.  These often have an element of biomechanical anomaly involved so your Podiatrist will look at whether orthotics or insoles should be a part of the longer term management of these painful corns.
What can you do to prevent it?
If you have corns or callus, you can treat them yourself occasionally by gently rubbing with a fine grade foot file, or gentle use of a pumice stone, ideally when you are in the bath and the skin is softened.  If you run vigorously this actually encourages the callus to build up faster as you’re subjecting your skin to pressure and friction, always go for little and often. Daily use of moisturising cream can help improve the thickened skin a little at a time and increase its elasticity and ability to withstand friction.  Have a good look at your footwear, does it hold your foot steady or do your toes have to grip to keep the shoe on?  If it’s the latter then you’re stopping your foot functioning naturally and subjecting your feet to extra pressure friction and therefore risking calluses and corns developing.  There are many devices to wear on the toes or under the feet to protect areas prone to painful problems, see your Podiatrist for advice on what’s best for your feet.  Occasionally the problem is mechanical so a Podiatrist can assess to see whether orthotics or insoles would provide a long term solution in managing your particular problem. Talk to your Podiatrist today.
What are the treatments?
It is not advisable to cut corns yourself, especially if you are elderly or diabetic. A Podiatrist will be able to help reduce the corn using sterile equipment and in an expert way, to provide relief.  Your Podiatrist will discuss the causes and attribution factors with you to build up a picture of why you’re getting this problem and then plan your treatment accordingly.  You’ll be given advice on what you can do to improve things and manage your feet yourself and when best to seek help.
You should be careful about using corn plasters, cheap as they may be, they contain acids than can burn the healthy skin around the corn and this can lead to serious infection.  The same can be said for foot peels.  You should always consult a Podiatrist for advice before using corn plasters or quick fix remedies!
WARNING: Home remedies, such as lambs wool around toes, are potentially dangerous. Commercially available ‘cures’ should be used only following professional advice.
If you are unsure of what to do or need special attention, or feel like pampering yourself, leave it to the experts- consult the clinic today for help and advice.
 Burnham Podiatry Clinic | Corns | Callus | Hard Skin | Sweaty Feet | Look After Your Feet | Foot Care


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