Corns are hardened layers of skin that commonly develop on the toes and feet. A callus develops when the skin thickens in a certain area, usually the part of the sole which bears most of the bodys weight. This thickened skin pad develops due to continuous friction or pressure. A callus that develops on a pressure point such as beneath the toe joint or the top of the toe is called a corn. Both can be painful especially when there is pressure on the nerves. Corns can occur due to several reasons such as pressure, or friction due to badly-fitting shoes or abnormalities in the bone structure. Corns have an unsightly appearance and may appear as red, inflamed areas of skin.
Symptoms of Corns
Corns appear as small, thick areas of dead and hard skin. They mostly occur on the toes or in the areas between the toes. They have a waxy, firm core that presses against the skin and exerts strain on the surrounding nerves. This can lead to severe pain in some cases. The most common symptoms of corns are as follows:
- Rough, hardened areas of skin
- Raised, thick bumps on the skin
- Tenderness beneath the skin
- Dry or waxy skin
Corns are usually smaller than calluses and have a firm center. The area surrounding the hardened core gets inflamed. Calluses are often bigger than corns and do not lead to considerable pain or discomfort.
In case of pain arising from corns or calluses, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Those who suffer from circulatory problems or are diabetic should seek advice from their doctor before using any kind of treatment. This is because an injury can lead to infection which may not heal properly.
Causes of Corns
Corns are usually formed as a result of pressure on the toes and skin surfaces of the feet through incorrect footwearCorns tend to develop when there is constant and persistent friction or pressure on the area. The most common causes of corns include:
- Poorly-Fitting Shoes: Shoes that do not fit comfortably can exert pressure on parts of the foot. Shoes that are too loose can also damage the foot because they may lead to repeated friction. Women who have a habit of wearing high heels may also suffer from corns due to the uneven pressure on the foot. Shoes that are not made well or are of bad quality are another cause of corns, as the skin may rub against seams or stitches.
- Not Wearing Socks: Shoes and sandals that are made of firm or rough materials cause friction with the skin. Socks help to protect the feet. It is important to wear comfortable and well-fitting socks.
- Manual Labor: Frequent use of hand tools can cause damage the skin due to friction. Jobs that involve carrying around heavy or hard material such as stones can also increase the risk of corns and calluses.
- Athletic Events: Athletes commonly develop corns and calluses because of the excessive stress on certain areas of their hands and feet.
- Abnormal Bone Structure: Some people have bony prominences due to irregular foot structure. These areas can develop corns due to constant friction or pressure.
- Faulty Foot Function: Conditions such as scoliosis can lead to uneven weight bearing on the feet.
- Bursitis: Bursae are the tiny fluid-filled pockets that protect the joints from frequent friction. Bursitis occurs due to inflammation of the bursae. These inflamed areas can become further irritated and develop corns or calluses.
Remedies for Corns
While calluses do not really pose much a of a problem corns, because of their funnel like structure intensify and focus pressure on a particular point, thereby not just causing pain, but also posing a risk of tissue damage and ulceration. While there are home remedies that some claim can help in the treatment of corns, most experts agree that treatment is not as simple as it may seem, and prevention is in fact a lot easier. In addition to treatment with over the counter applications and sanding with a pumice stone, you could also try using some of these home remedies:
- Since corns and calluses are composed of dead skin, rubbing the area with a pumice stone is effective in alleviating the symptoms. Remember to soak your foot in warm water first and then rub with a pumice stone.
- Soaking the affected foot in a solution of baking soda and warm water is said to be effective in removing the dead, hard skin. Add about three tablespoons of baking soda to a tub of warm water and place your foot inside. Massaging the foot with a paste of baking soda and water is also one of the most common home remedies for callus removal.
- Dab some cornstarch in the areas between the toes to remove moisture. The toes must be kept dry because moisture can lead to infection and worsen the corn or callus. Cornstarch helps to absorb sweat and hence keeps the skin dry.
- Vinegar is helpful in treating corns. Rub some vinegar over the affected areas using a cotton ball. Allow it to stay on at night and exfoliate the area the next morning.
- Pineapple peel contains certain enzymes which help in softening corns and calluses and removing them from the skin. Place a small piece of fresh pineapple peel over the affected area and wrap a clean cloth around it. Do this every night for a week. You can also apply pineapple juice to the corns.
Keep in mind that most of these home remedies are not really reliable, as there is little scientific evidence to support any of the claims of their efficacy. Consult with your doctor to find an effective plan to address the problem.
There are also some preventive measures you can take for corns and calluses.
- Corns develop due to continuous pressure and friction. Therefore it is important to identify the cause and eliminate it before the condition gets aggravated.
- Keep your toenails short. When a toenail is too long, the toe joint may push upwards against the shoe and develop a corn. Trim the toenails straight across so that the tips do not push into the toes. It is also advisable to file the toenails to smoothen out the edges.
- If you feel a corn developing, soak the foot in warm water and Epsom salts. Then apply moisturizer to the area and cover the foot with a plastic bag. Take off the bag after an hour and using a pumice stone, rub the corn gently. This will help to prevent the corn from further hardening.
- Avoid using any tools to cut corns and calluses. There are many such tools available, but it is not advisable to use them since they may cause injury, bleeding and infection.
- To ease irritated areas between the toes, place pieces of cotton to separate the toes.
- Apply some petroleum jelly to the areas of the foot that tend to undergo friction. Do this especially when you need to do a lot of walking.
- Always buy shoes that fit properly and comfortably. It is a good idea to go shoe shopping during the later part of the day as the feet tend to swell slightly due to pressure.
- You can pad the foot so that the pressure is transferred to another part of the foot for some time. You can do this by placing non-medicated pads or other material over the corn. There are also special corn pads available in drugstores.
- Wash the feet daily and dry them well. You can also apply some talcum powder to remove moisture.
Diet for Corns
There is no specific diet that helps in the treatment of corns. But health dietary habits are always beneficial as they help the body to repair itself and heal properly. Here are some important dietary tips. Your diet is also important from the aspect of maintaining the ideal body weight. This is because of the simple reason that corns and calluses are most likely to develop from repeated excessive pressure and friction in a particular area. Obesity greatly increases the amount of pressure that areas like the soles of the feet or toes are subjected to. To this extent making modifications to your diet can greatly help address the problem. In addition, a healthy balanced diet also ensures optimal healing.
Suggestions for Corns
There are special medicated pads and liquids available in drugstores which help to reduce discomfort and get rid of corns. However many of these contain salicylic acid which can cause skin irritation in some people. This can also increase the risk of infection.
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