Corns and Calluses

How to get rid of Corns and Callus, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Corns and calluses are the rough, thickened patches of skin that develop as a result of repetitive rubbing or prolonged pressure, usually on your feet and hands.

 

They function to protect your soft dermal layers from the stress of repeated irritation. They’re very common to athletes and people who perform manual labor.

 

We realize these conditions can be both painful and unsightly. But rest assured, our foot and ankle specialists have extensive experience treating corns and calluses, offering advanced care in the least invasive treatment options possible.

What's the difference between a corn and a callus?

A corn usually forms on the top of the foot and/or toes, over a joint or bone. The core of the corn is the dense, thick knot at the very center, which forms over the point of the greatest compression or friction from your shoe. Corns can cause discomfort and make it harder to walk or run in your shoes.

 

Corns can be soft or hard: soft corns are supple and tender, and are usually found on the delicate skin between the toes. They are kept moist by sweat, and are prone to infection. Hard corns are firmer and drier, and form on the knobby toe knuckles and outer edges. Most people develop corns due to wearing shoes that are too tight.

 

A callus develops in response to excessive rubbing and friction. It looks like a dull yellow, flat, rough layer of skin and is usually found on the sole of the foot. Unlike a corn, a callus has a uniform thickness. Calluses can sometimes be painful or make walking more difficult.

 

Most calluses form when the foot isn’t fitting well in the shoe, and there is space for parts of the foot to move around and rub against the inside of the shoe. In some cases, a callus may form due to problems with walking. A change in your gait might change the way your foot slides around in your shoe, creating a new area of friction where a callus might develop.

 

 

Diagnosing Corns and Calluses

When you make an appointment with your foot and ankle specialist about corns or calluses, make sure to bring your shoes. Your doctor will want to examine how your shoes fit to understand how they are rubbing or causing excessive pressure in certain areas of your foot.

 

Your doctor will also be on the lookout for foot abnormalities which may be impacting your foot’s mechanics. This may include:

  • Mal-aligned bones

  • Structural deficiencies in the bones

  • Toe deformities

  • Any abnormal walking patterns (such as pigeon-toeing)

 

 

Treating Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses can be treated conservatively at home or with the help of a podiatrist. The most effective treatments usually involve redistributing the pressure on your foot to help you move more normally and comfortably in your shoes.


Wear Better Fitting Shoes

Your shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box to cut down on the pressure on your toe joints. Usually, this helps shrink the corn or callus within a few weeks or months.

 

Use Moleskin

Moleskin is inexpensive and can be found at most pharmacies. Moleskin can cushion the sore and cut down on the direct friction to your skin. For corns, you can try cutting a “doughnut” shape out of moleskin, foam, or felt to relieve the pressure on the core.

 

Wear Orthotics

An orthotic is designed to augment the fit of your shoe and redistribute your weight to alleviate excessive pressure. Your foot and ankle specialist can fit you for a custom set.

 

Keeping the Corn or Callus Trimmed

Your foot and ankle specialist can shave down the thick layers using a scalpel blade. This can reduce the pain you feel while wearing your shoes by reducing the pressure on your foot. The corn or callus may return later, requiring additional treatment.

 

Usually, if you wear the right shoes or start using a well-fitting orthotic, the corn or callus won’t return.
Surgery. This option is usually only recommended for severe cases, or when your foot has a structural deformity that is causing persistent problems. The focus will be on improving overall foot mechanics to prevent excessive pressure and friction during your normal activities.

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