CORNS AND CULLUSES

Complete Information

Introduction

Corns are small raised thick areas that develop on the tops of the feet or toes.  Corns occur because of friction from wearing poorly fitting shoes or as the result of foot deformities.  It is best to consult a podiatrist, a foot specialist, for treatment of this problem.  A podiatrist can remove a corn and recommend toe pads, shoe inserts, and properly fitting shoes to help prevent corns in the future.


Anatomy

Your skin covers your body and protects it from the environment.  It is composed of three major layers.  A corn is a thickened area of skin that forms to protect the skin and foot structures beneath it.


Causes

Corns typically appear on the foot in areas that do not bear weight.  Hard corns develop on the foot in response to friction or pressure, such as from shoes that do not fit well or toe deformities.  Soft corns, also referred to as kissing corns, develop between the toes, usually as a result of misshapen toes.


Symptoms

A corn is a thickened raised area of skin on the foot or toes, or between toes.  A corn has a hard center that is encircled by inflamed skin.  The corn may hurt when it is pressed.


Diagnosis

It is especially important for people with diabetes or poor circulation to consult a podiatrist if they develop corns or other skin conditions on the feet.  The doctor will examine your feet and check for corns, deformities, and skin integrity.  You will be asked about the type of shoes that you wear.  X-rays may be taken if your doctor suspects that a bone deformity is the cause of a corn.


Treatment

The type of treatment you receive depends on the size, characteristics, and location of your corn.  Your doctor may trim the corn or apply a medicated patch.  Custom-made shoe inserts may be used to position the foot to help prevent shoe friction.  In rare cases, surgery is used to correct a foot deformity.  Your doctor will make recommendations for the best types of shoes for you.


Prevention

You can help prevent foot deformities by wearing properly fitting shoes.  Ask your podiatrist for footwear recommendations or about shoe inserts.  Wear socks with shoes to help prevent friction.


Am I at Risk??

Risk factors for corns include:

  • Toe deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes
  • Poor-fitting shoes
  • High-heeled shoes
  • Poor-fitting socks
  • Not wearing socks with shoes or sandals