In my practice, I often have patients show me corns on the feet. I thought I would briefly talk about this condition, and what you can do to get rid of this nuisance problem.
What Are Corns On The Feet?
Corns are painful lesions that develop when the skin is repeatedly damaged by friction or pressure. This condition is common in athletes and people with uneven friction forces on their feet because of their shoes or the way they walk, such as the elderly, people with diabetes, and amputees.
Corns are usually caused by repeated mechanical trauma, as well as other factors like wearing shoes that don’t fit right, having bony prominences (a foot deformity), and doing certain physical activities.
Most of the time, they are on the feet – on the tops of the toes, in the last space between the webs of the toes, and on the bottoms of the feet.
How Common Are Corns On The Feet?
Corns on the feet have been said to happen anywhere from 14% to 48% of the time. Corns are more likely to show up on people with darker skin. It has been said that older people, especially women who wear narrow shoes, are more likely to get them.
Elderly patients can also lose the protective cushioning of their fat pads at the bottom of their feet. This is called ”fat pad atrophy”, and it can lead to quite painful corns.
When the skin on top of the bony protrusions rubs and presses against itself over and over, it causes the skin to thicken and form a corn.
This corn is a protective response of the body that makes too much of the thick cell layer to stop the skin from getting sore. This explains why corns tend to grow next to the bony protrusions of the feet.
What Is A Corn Made Of?
Corns usually look like dry, rough, flesh-colored swellings with a white center (called the core). They are found on the top of a bony protrusion. They hurt when you walk or stand, but they don’t hurt when you touch them. As keratin (thick skin tissue) builds up and grows too much, corns can form and cause a lot of pain when walking.
How Can A Corn Be Treated?
Most of the time, corns are caused by shoes that are too tight. So, you should really look at your shoes and stop wearing ones that are too tight. Wearing shoes that are comfortable, well-cushioned, and not too tight can also keep you from having other foot problems. Many times this is sufficient to allow the corn to heal.
If you wear high heels or narrow shoes made of hard leather for longer than you need to, it might help to have a pair of comfortable shoes you can change into when you can. I sometimes advise patients to wear light footwear till they get to a destination, and then change once they really need to do so.
If you have a foot or toe deformity or joint disease, even shoes that don’t fit too tightly can cause pressure and rubbing. In this case, shoe inserts (insoles), silicone pads, pads that relieve pressure, or shoes that are made just for you can help. You can talk to a medical shop owner about these, or even find them online.
Sometimes corns can grow on other parts of the body. Corns on your hands can happen when you use certain tools or sports equipment, like dumbbells. Then, things like gym gloves or foam handles can help.
Removing The Corn At Home
In addition to the above changes, simple home remedies to remove your corn on the feet can be tried.
For example, you can soak the area of skin that is affected for about 10 minutes in warm water. Then you use pumice stone to gently take off the top layer of thick skin. Doing this every alternate day might help.
Don’t be too aggressive with the rubbing as you can injure the skin and cause bleeding.
If the corn is very deep, infected, or has caused other problems, a doctor should treat it.
Patients with diabetes should be very careful if they have neuropathy, which makes their skin less sensitive and doesn’t recognise pain. It is best for people with diabetes who have corn to have a doctor or podiatrist safely remove it.
Management By A Medical Professional
Salicylic acid in a pad or a solution with a concentration of 12.6% to 40% can be used to take care of corns on the feet.
In a study that compared standard paring of calluses to 40% salicylic acid plasters, the group that used the salicylic acid plasters (corn caps) got rid of more corns, reduced pain, and made the corns smaller over six months than the group that used standard surgical removal.
Laser therapy has been used to manage corns with some success. But the corn may come back in some patients, especially if the things that caused them are still present.
Surgical removal is usually reserved for patients who do not respond to any of the other measures.
Corns on the feet are a common problem and can be quite painful. Prevention is the first step in management. Patients should avoid wearing shoes that don’t fit right and putting too much pressure on the area.