Corns and calluses are areas of thickened and hard skin (hyperkeratosis) on the body that forms due to pressure and friction. It is most commonly found on the palms of our hands or the soles of our feet. Calluses are generally painless until it becomes very thick where it starts to cause damage to the underlying tissue. Corns, however, are usually painful when pressure is applied and are often misdiagnosed as plantar warts.
It is a myth that corns have “roots” and will resolve when the “roots” are removed. Corns do not have roots and the only effective way to resolve corns is by reducing the amount of friction and pressure over the area.
Corns and calluses are formed due to a localised area of pressure and friction, hence they typically develop on weight-bearing areas such as the ball of feet, heels, and toes. Pressure and friction trigger the skin cells to reproduce excessively, forming thick layers of skin. This process will not stop until the amount of pressure and friction are reduced.
Corns & calluses have distinct differences in their signs and symptoms.
Risk factors for corns and calluses include:
The key to treating corns and calluses is to reduce the amount of pressure and friction over the affected area. Shaving or debridement only provides temporary relief for weeks before they grow back again.
Treatment options for corns and calluses include:
Corn plasters or any topical salicylic acid ointments do not cure corns and calluses and should be avoided, especially for patients with diabetic foot complications. Excessive use of corn plasters can result in acid burns and infections.
Essentially, a pedicure can only provide symptom relief just like shaving or debridement. Corns and calluses will continue to grow back within weeks or months after each session. The majority of patients would normally feel that they could live this way and would not mind going for pedicures regularly. However, the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes is high as we age, and diabetic foot ulcers are caused by calluses or corns. Preventing and treating corns or calluses will not only protect your feet when you are healthy but can also save your feet should your health deteriorates.