The human body is incredibly adaptable, and corns and calluses are just one way your body defends you. While slightly different from each other, corns and calluses stem from the same root cause. They are both thick patches of skin that develop to protect you when the skin is subjected to excessive friction and pressure, but they can become problems themselves, particularly for diabetics or anyone with compromised circulation.
When corns and calluses develop, however, there can often be an underlying issue. When the long bones in the middle of the foot carry more weight than intended, a callus may form on the ball of the foot. A hammertoe can cause corns by rubbing skin against the shoes or between the bones of the adjacent toes. Corns between the toes are called “soft corns” because they retain moisture and do not get hard. Sometimes a small, inflamed, reddish pouch may develop that becomes more painful than the corn. This pouch is known as a bursa.
Treatment options depend on the symptoms you have and whether you have any associated foot deformity. When corns and calluses are causing only mild discomfort, the simplest solution is to try wider, more comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes to move. These may include lower heels, softer leather, wider toe boxes, or even gym shoes. Gently using a pumice stone to thin any corns or calluses may provide some relief from symptoms. Never use a medicated corn pad or corn-removing product, since these contain a strong acid that cannot differentiate between normal and thickened skin. This can lead to a chemical burn or an open sore that can become infected.
When these treatment options are no longer providing the comfort you need, we advise a consultation with our podiatrist to discuss other treatments.