Corns and calluses might be unattractive, uncomfortable, and occasionally painful, but they actually protect your feet from repeated trauma. For example, if your shoes are just a touch too narrow or you have a structural issue like a bunion or hammertoe, part of your foot can rub against the inside of your shoe, leading to corns or calluses.
The good news? You can protect your feet from developing these small, hard growths of skin. If you already have them, our experienced podiatrist, Sean Rosenblum, DPM, offers expert foot care here at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, in Lido, New Jersey.
Is there a difference between corns and calluses?
Many patients use the terms corns and calluses interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. While both are small, hardened skin growths caused by pressure and friction, there are some critical differences.
Corns are small, round, growths with a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin. They usually form pressure points on the parts of your feet that don’t bear weight, like the tops or sides of your toes, although they can grow on other parts of your foot. They’re often painful when pressed.
There are three types of corns: soft, hard, and seed. Soft corns have a thinner surface and are often red and tender. Hard corns are small, hard, lumps surrounded by an area of thickened skin. Seed corns are tiny and develop on a weight-bearing part of the foot, like the ball of your foot.
Calluses are thick lumps of the outermost layer of skin. They’re usually bigger than corns and generally painless. Calluses typically develop the weight-bearing parts of the soles of your feet, such as your heels or the balls of your feet. You might also get calluses on your hands when your skin is subjected to repeated friction.
What causes corns and calluses?
Corns and calluses develop when your body protects itself against pressure and friction. You’re more likely to develop them if you:
- Do a lot of walking, running, or standing
- Wear shoes without socks
- Have foot deformities such as bunions or hammertoes
- Have improper walking motion
Your choice of footwear is the most common culprit of corns and callus growth. While poorly fitting shoes often cause these hard lumps of skin to develop, the worst offenders are high-heeled shoes.
High heels put pressure on your toes and the balls of your feet. Shoes with pointed toes also compress your toes and create friction points. As a result, women are more likely than men to have foot problems.
What are my treatment options?
The most effective way of treating corns and calluses is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Wearing correctly fitting shoes and socks, and avoiding repetitive actions removes the source of pressure and friction. You can also use protective pads or inserts in your shoes to reduce friction on your foot.
Wearing properly fitting shoes makes a huge difference in your foot health. When shopping for shoes, try these tips to get the best fit:
- Replace shoes regularly.
- Have your feet professionally measured at the shoe store.
- Consider the width of your foot and not just the length when buying shoes.
- Allow up to half an inch between your toes and the end of your shoe
- Shop for shoes at the end of the day when feet are more swollen.
If you already have corns or calluses, you can help them heal by soaking your feet and gently rubbing the affected area with a washcloth to help remove the hardened skin. Don’t try to remove corns or calluses with any sharp objects as this increases your risk of infection. Additionally, applying moisturizer every day can help keep your skin soft and healthy.
If you have persistent corns and calluses that don’t respond to at-home care, make an appointment with Dr. Rosenblum. We offer personalized foot care, including aggressive treatments for corns and calluses. We can also identify any underlying issues that contribute to your problem. Depending on your needs, we might:
- Trim away excess skin
- Prescribe medical-grade callus-removing patches or creams
- Custom orthotics
If you need help getting rid of corns or calluses or have other painful foot or ankle problems, make an appointment today. You can call our office or schedule an appointment online.