What are Callouses?
Callouses are areas of thick skin usually found on the bottom of the foot. They typically form under the ball of the foot. They can become painful as they grow thicker.
What are Corns?
Corns are thickened skin that are usually found on the knuckles of the toes, although they can be found between toes and occasionally on the bottom of the foot.
Corns are smaller but more dense and thicker than callouses. They are often more painful and can feel like a knot or pebble in the toe or in the bottom of the foot.
How do they form?
Both corns and callouses form from a combination of pressure and friction.
For example, shoes with shallow toe boxes tend to rub the knuckles of the toes, especially patients with hammer-toes. Over time this rubbing can cause corns on the top of the toes.
Tight-fitting shoes can cause corns on the little toes or between toes.
Callouses on the bottom of the foot usually form from loose-fitting shoes, barefoot walking, wearing shoes or sandals without socks, or areas of prominent bone on the bottom of the foot.
Are they a serious medical problem?
Corns and callouses can be a serious problem for patients with Diabetes, poor circulation or neuropathy (numbness in the feet). A callous or corn is usuallty the first sign of skin breakdown. A person with poor circulation or nerve damage in the foot is at risk for more serious skin problems developing. These include:
- skin infection
- skin ulceration (open sore)
- deep infection (muscle, tendon or bone)
These patients should not ignore corns or callouses. Medical attention from a Podiatrist is needed to best address the risks and control the problem.
How do you treat them?
Callouses and corns are typically treated with a combination of methods, including:
- Shaving the thickened skin
- Modifying the inside of shoes/replacing shoes
- Orthotic insoles
- Prescription skin softening creams
- Silicon-lined socks (for sleeping/home use)
- Splinting toes in correct position
- Padding painful corns
- Surgically correcting toe deformity or bone prominence
Will they come back?
Corns and callouses will come back as long if the skin continues to be exposed to abnormal pressure and friction.