CORNS & CALLUSES - what are they & what can be done about them?
CORNS AND CALLUSES – What are they and what can be done about them?
If you have ever suffered from corns or calluses you would know how painful they can be if left untreated. When it comes to treating these lesions, the question my patients will often ask me is “will it hurt?” The brief answer to that question is NO. Treatment of corns and
calluses by a skilled podiatrist should not be painful.
WHAT ARE CORNS & CALLUSES
Firstly, it is important to understand what corns and calluses actually are, this will make understanding the treatment process clearer.
Callus is essentially hard, thickened skin (hyperkeratosis) which develops in response to excessive pressure and friction on an area of the skin. Common areas for callus to develop in the feet are the heels, the balls of the feet and around the toes.
Corns also develop in response to excessive pressure and friction, but the pressure is typically more localised. Unlike callus, corns can have a dense core of hyperkeratosis, which can sometimes resemble a seed (heloma duram). Corns can also be soft (heloma molle) but equally as painful. Common areas for corns to occur are around bony prominences such as the small joints of the lesser toes and under the balls of the feet. Soft corns typically occur between the toes.
Although painful and frustrating for patients, the formation of these lesions by the body is actually quite clever. It’s the body’s way of alerting us, through pain, to excessive pressure on a particular area so that we in turn address the source of this pressure. If ignored, ongoing application of pressure to a corn or callus may result in ulceration.
WHY ARE CORNS & CALLUSES PAINFUL?
Corns and calluses are not alive, they have no blood or nerve supply, therefore it is not the corn or callus itself which is painful. The pain experienced is a result of pressure being applied to the corn or callus which in turn puts pressure on the sensitive soft tissue structures around it, resulting in pain.
WHAT CAUSES CORNS & CALLUSES?
Corns and calluses are caused by excessive pressure and friction on an area of the skin. So, what needs to be established is, what is the source of this pressure and friction?
The development of corns and calluses on the toes, particularly the lesser toes, can often be attributed to pressure from ill-fitting shoes. Replacing the shoes with more appropriately fitting ones will often solve the problem and prevent the lesions from recurring.
Plantar corns and calluses (lesions on the bottom of your feet) are just as simple to treat however preventing them from recurring can be more involved, as the pressure and friction is often associated with abnormal foot biomechanics.
Abnormal foot biomechanics can be addressed with orthotic devices which can help reduce the severity of plantar corns and calluses by offloading pressure-prone areas, in addition to addressing other musculoskeletal complaints.
Heel callus is particularly common in the warmer months and can be exacerbated by walking in bare feet and open shoes such as thongs. Wearing closed in shoes and socks, regular application of moisturiser and debridement of heel callus by a podiatrist can help to reduce heel callus.
HOW ARE CORNS & CALLUSES TREATED?
The treatment of corns and calluses by a skilled podiatrist is a pain free process. We use a technique called debridement to gently remove the lesions and relieve your pain.
Unless the causative factors involved in the development of these lesions are addressed, the corn or callus will most likely come back.
There are products available from chemists which are aimed at treating corns and calluses, some patients find them helpful however many do not. Please be aware though if you do suffer from diabetes or any circulation problems, many of these products should be avoided due to risk of ulceration and infection.
So, if you suffer from corns and calluses but have been unsure of what to do about it or concerned that the treatment will be painful, go and see a podiatrist and rest assured that the treatment options are generally painless and non-invasive. You don’t have to keep putting up with them!
Danielle Champion B.Pod