Do you remember your grandmother talking about her painful corns? You probably paid no mind to it at the time. But if you are in pain now, and wondering what it could be, her story may ring a bell. But what are corns? Are they hereditary? And what makes them different from calluses? Let's dive in and find out together!
What are corns?
Corns are focal areas of thickened skin that form on top of the bony areas of your feet. They are often painful because the thickening extends deep into the skin, not staying on the surface. This can cause irritation and inflammation to the area. And, in turn, you notice pain.
There are three types of corns: hard, soft and seed corns.
Seed corns are small and usually develop on the bottom of your feet. But hard corns are what most people think about with this concern. They're the traditional hardened growth. If you have a hard corn, it's often found on the top of your toes. It's especially common on top of a contracted hammertoe. (Remember, a hammertoe is a deformity that affects the joints in your toes, making them appear bent.)
And what about soft corns? They form in different locations and cause different concerns. You see, we find soft corns between the toes. They form there as a response to pressure placed on the skin by the bones of two adjacent toes.
But why are these corns soft instead of hard? Well, the space between your toes becomes moist and macerated. And that softens the corn and the surrounding skin. Make no mistake though, they are still painful. Yet, soft are hard, corns are different concerns than calluses. And that means they'll need a different treatment plan.
What is a callus?
What about a callus? And what is the difference between a corn and a callus? A callus is a hard and thick patch of skin. It has some similarities to a corn. You see, both corns and calluses cause thickenings of your skin. And they both form in response to pressure or friction. But that's where most of the similarities end.
Now, compared to a corn, a callus is larger and is shaped less regularly than a corn, meaning it usually spreads out over a larger area. And calluses tend to form on the bottom of your foot, usually at the heel, ball of foot, big toe or along the sides of the foot. Also, a callus does not extend very far into the skin. As a result, it's usually not as painful as a corn.
Still, a callus can thicken more with time--and without treatment. In some cases, corns can even form within your callus. So you can't afford to ignore it!
You're more likely to develop a corn or callus if you have health issues that affect bone alignment in your feet. That means people with bunions, foot arthritis, bone spurs and hammertoes are more likely to get corns and calluses. If you pronate or supinate (your feet roll inward or outward too much when you walk) you have a higher risk for corns and calluses.
Shoe choice can impact your risk, since narrow shoes will cause friction and put pressure on your feet. Even if your shoes fit properly, wearing those shoes without socks can also be a problem. Then, even if you wear socks, you have to make sure they fit well, since bunching and rubbing socks contribute to friction. Finally, smoking is a risk factor because it makes the skin in your foot less elastic, and more likely to harden.
Removing Corns and Calluses in Houston, TX
While corns and calluses are two different problems, we treat them very similarly in our Houston podiatry practice. And the treatment will depend on your end goal, whether it's pain relief or total removal.
Now, lots of people just want their feet to feel better. So many patients just want to pad their hard skin so it doesn't hurt when they walk. But some people find comfort from over the counter corn and callus removers sold in grocery stores and pharmacies. And that's a big problem. Because the ingredient mix in medicated pads contains acid. That can burn through your skin, leading to sores that can become infected. As a result, we don't recommend these products.
OTC Callus Treatment That Works
Now, you can use any pad that is NON-medicated. These products aren't dangerous; in fact, they offer a helpful way to relieve the pressure from the corn or callus. In turn, they can help remove the pain you experience from your hardened layers of skin. And that's why we carry a variety of premium pads in our Houston podiatry office to help you manage any corn or callus.
Still, for some patients, the goal is more than just pain relief. They want those corns and calluses gone for good so they can show off their feet in the cutest open toed shoes. In these cases, many people find a great deal of comfort by going to have their corns and calluses pared down by a podiatrist.
We know, that sounds like a scary and painful process. But the opposite is true. Thankfully, there is no pain involved in paring down corns and calluses. Even better, most patients feel relief as soon as they step out of the chair following this procedure. There are times when corns may return quickly. That's because we have to manage the pressure causing corns to form in the first place.
For some patients, orthotics will do the trick. But for others, we'll need a more permanent intervention. In these cases, we may recommend foot surgery to eliminate the pressure of the bones causing the corn.
If you have a painful corn or callus there is no need to suffer through the pain. Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider will do what he can to relieve your pain and discuss what you can do to keep the pain gone.