Corns and calluses are your body’s way of protecting you from blisters or open sores. Your body builds up hard, dead skin to thicken and toughen an area wherever there is increased pressure or friction. The most common place that calluses develop is on the ball of the foot. Corns, on the other hand, are most commonly found on top of or between the toes, especially the fourth and fifth toes. When the corn or callus becomes too thickened, increased pain and redness may result. Corns and calluses can develop in any age group.
Structural changes in the toes and the ball of the foot can cause increased pressure within your shoes. Typically, the normal foot can carry a person’s weight comfortably. The development of painful corns and calluses, however, can often signal an underlying problem. When the long bones in the middle of the foot carry more weight than intended, a callus may form on the ball of the foot. A hammertoe can also result in increased pressure on these bones. Additionally, as we age, we may lose the protective fat pad in the ball of the foot, making the callus condition worse.
Hammertoes can cause corns by rubbing skin against the shoes or between the bones of adjacent toes. Corns between the toes are called “soft corns” because they retain moisture and do not get hard. Sometimes a small, inflamed, reddish pouch may develop that becomes more painful than the corn. This pouch is known as a bursa.
Treatment options depend on the symptoms you have and whether you have any associated foot deformity. When corns and calluses are causing only mild discomfort, the simplest solution is to try wider, more comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes to move. These may include lower heels, softer leather, wider toe boxes, or even gym shoes. Gently using a pumice stone to thin any corns or calluses may provide some relief from symptoms. Never use a medicated corn pad or corn-removing product, since these contain a strong acid that cannot differentiate between normal and thickened skin. This can lead to a chemical burn or an open sore that can become infected. When these treatment options are no longer providing the comfort you need, we advise a consultation with your podiatrist to discuss surgical options.
Over 200,000 patients have found relief from their foot pain, and we’re confident we can help you too. Your feet will thank you! For additional information on corn or callus treatment or to schedule an appointment, call Weil Foot & Ankle at (847) 390-7666. With 15 podiatry offices in and around the Chicago area, including Aurora, Des Plaines, Glenview, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, and Roselle, IL, there is sure to be a podiatry office near you!