Corns

Definition

Corns like calluses develop from an accumulation of dead skin cells on the foot, forming thick, hardened areas. They appear as a horny thickening of the skin on the toes. This thickening appears as a cone shaped mass pointing down into the skin. Hard corns are usually located on the outer surface of the little toe or on the upper surface of the other toes, but can occur between the toes. Soft corns occur between the toes and are kept soft by the moisture in this area. Corns can become inflamed due to constant friction and pressure from footwear.

Causes Some of the common causes of corn development are tight fitting footwear, toe deformities, such as hammer toes - the top of the hammer toe is an area for increased pressure, bony prominences, biomechanical or gait abnormalities that cause pressure under different areas of the sole of the foot (this is a common cause of callus)

Soft corns result from bony prominences and are located between the toes. They become soft due to perspiration in the forefoot area.

Treatment and Prevention

There are very simple ways to prevent and treat the corns. You should wear properly fitted footwear with extra room in the toe box (toe area). Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose. Use an orthotic that is made with materials that will absorb shock and shearing forces. Also avoid tight socks and stockings to provide a healthier environment for the foot.

Remedies such as corn paint, cure or plasters will generally only treat the symptom of the corn and not the problem that causes it. These chemicals contain acid that are supposed to 'eat away' the corn, but the chemical can not tell what is corn and what is normal - it will eat what ever you put it on. While this can be risky in healthy people, it can be very dangerous in those with poor circulation and/or diabetes. The use of corn plasters in those who are at risk or have frail skin is very likely to cause an ulcer (a breakdown of the skin), which could become infected, and if the circulation is poor, an amputation is a possibility.

If the problem persists, consult your podiatrist.