How to Tell the Difference Between a Callus, a Corn, and a Plantar Wart

Houston podiatrist discusses the difference between a corn, a callus, and a plantar wartHello, and welcome back to my video series, where we're taking a deep dive all about plantar warts. In my last video, I explained what plantar warts are, what they're caused by, and how you could prevent them. In today's video, I'll discuss how to identify a plantar wart, the difference between a callus, a corn and a plantar wart, and when you need to see a doctor to check on your plantar wart. Welcome, I'm Houston podiatrist, Dr. Andrew Schneider.

There are common symptoms that are associated with plantar warts A wart itself appears as a small grainy lesion that forms on the bottom of your foot, on your toe, or between your toes. Often a callus forms over the wart, and that's because of the extra pressure that the wart causes, and it allows that callus to form. If you look hard at a wart, you'll notice small pinpoint black specks within it. Those are blood vessels that feed the wart called capillaries. You may notice pain or tenderness when you're standing or when you're walking. And there's also pain on lateral compression of the wart. That means when you squeeze the wart, it's painful. And finally, a hallmark of a plantar wart is that there's no skin lines that go through the lesion itself. In fact, that's one of the main ways I know when I see a wart in the office, I use a tool called a dermatoscope, where I'm able to see the skin lines very well and see them go around and not through that wart lesion. 

Plantar warts are often confused with a callus or a corn. A callus is a formation of thick, dead skin on the bottom of your foot. A callus forms in areas of pressure in order to protect you from that pressure. If calluses build up and become too thick, they also can become painful. Calluses also may form on top of a wart because of the extra pressure that the tissue from a wart provides. So if you see a callus, there's a chance a wart is lurking under it. It's especially true if the callus is painful. Now, unlike a wart, there are usually no black dots underneath the callus. There's usually no pain when you squeeze the callus. And usually we do see skin lines coming through the callus. 

A corn is also a formation of thick, dead skin that forms on top of your toes. They form because of the pressure from the toe against the top of your shoe. I often see corns form if you have a hammer toe. The joint will put pressure on the top of the shoe and your body will try to protect you by forming that corn, which is that thick, dead skin in the area of that pressure. Corns can be painful, especially when you're wearing closed shoes. Like a callous, however, there are skin lines and it's rare that you see black dots within it.

A soft corn is a formation of dead skin between the toes. It's called the soft corn because of the maceration that occurs from the moisture between your toes. They form because of the pressure of the bones in the toe against the bones in the adjacent toe. The soft corn forms to protect you from that pressure, but because the extra skin forms in there, it becomes painful. Soft corns are particularly painful in closed shoes, such as dress shoes. Like a callus and a conventional corn, there are skin lines that go through a soft corn and you don't see black dots like you do an a wart.

So, when should you see a podiatrist for your wart? Well, if the wart is bleeding, painful, or changing in appearance, it's time to come in and get it checked. If you try treating the wart with an over-the-counter remedy, but the wart persists or multiplies, let's get it checked. If you have pain that stops you from doing any of the activities that you love, it's important that we get that taken care of, so you can get back to your life and enjoying what you need to do. And of course, if you have diabetes, poor sensation, poor circulation, or a weakened immune system, it's very important we get on top of this wart as quickly as possible to get it taken care of.

In our next video, I'll discuss the conventional treatments for plantar warts. If this video provided any value to you, please like, comment, subscribe, and share on social media. That will help others find the information they need all about plantar warts. If you identified with anything we discussed today, contact us at the office and we'll get you in for an immediate appointment. Thanks so much for watching and have a great day. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.