We all like to look our best. We try to keep our weight under control, choose clothes that flatter us, and find a good barber or hair stylist. However, we don’t always pay as much attention to our feet. Without care, they can develop callouses and corns that are not only unsightly but can also cause pain. Understanding how they form and what to do if they develop gives you a head start on maintaining healthy, attractive feet.
The Big Buildup
Your skin is a marvelous organ, protecting the tissues inside your body from infection and damage. When any part of your foot experiences friction, the skin is there to absorb the impact. Wherever your shoes rub against your feet, whether on the heel, ball of your foot, or on the bent portions of deformed toes, your skin starts to build up extra layers of skin against the irritation. The outer layers gradually dry out, however, because they don’t get the nutrients from your blood to stay supple. Without care, this dry skin becomes hard and a corn or callous can form. They are among the most common foot problems, along with infections and ingrown toenails, but they are also the ones you are least likely to treat.
Corn or Callous?
Although the formation of both is the same—a buildup of dry skin in response to pressure—the appearance of callouses and corns is different. Callouses appear on the bottom and sides of the feet which bear the pressure of your weight, most commonly the heels and the area behind your toes. They are also common on the side of the big toe, especially if you have a bunion. They are usually large, flat areas, may be greyish or yellowish in color, and aren’t painful unless cracks or splits form, exposing the tissue underneath.
Corns, on the other hand, are smaller round spots, usually on the tops of your toe joints, especially if you have hammertoes or claw toes. They are hard, raised bumps that can focus the pressure on the friction point and are often quite painful. If they develop between toes that rub against each other, your sweat often keeps them moister. These are called soft corns, and they will often have peeling, whitish layers.
Tips for Treating Callouses and Corns
Treatment begins with the thing that most often causes the dry, rough patches to develop—your shoes. Any pair that is tight in the toes or pushes your toes into the front of the shoe (high heels) can cause pressure on your toes. Shoes that are too loose can also make your feet slip and slide inside them, causing areas of irritation. Those without enough cushioning don’t protect your soles from pressing against the hard surface. If you need help evaluating your feet to find the best type of footwear for you, give Palmer Foot Clinic a call.
There are several self-care remedies you can do at home. Soaking your feet in warm water for a few minutes will soften the hard skin, allowing you to use a pumice stone to gently rub it away. Follow with a good moisturizer during the day. At night, petroleum jelly or a rich emollient can be applied, and you can cover with a pair of socks to keep the moisture in overnight. Never use a sharp instrument to cut or shave callouses or corns. That could lead to further injury or more serious complications like an infection.
Many times areas of pressure form due to underlying causes like overpronation, bunions and hammertoes, or arch problems. We can help you find conservative solutions for gait problems, toe deformities, and high or flat arches. Over-the-counter pads and bandages, taping or wrapping remedies, and custom-made orthotics have helped many people avoid the pain of callouses and corns.
For these and other foot problems, don’t hesitate to call the Palmer Foot Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba at (204) 697-0649. Podiatrist Iain Palmer offers expert foot care to help you live your life without foot pain.