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Corns and Callus

Foot On Sand Shoe Off

Our feet play an important role in getting us around. When we walk or stand, our feet carry the burden of our body weight, as well as bearing the various pressures of movement & the constraints of footwear. Sometimes, pressure placed on the foot becomes out of balance & extra friction falls on particular areas of the foot. When this happens, the body may respond to the pressure by producing hard thickenings in the surface layer of the skin – calluses. Calluses are developed to defend the foot. Calluses can become painful if the pressure is not alleviated.  A corn develops from a more concentrated spot of pressure.

What is Callus?

Callus appears as a yellowish plaque of hard skin associated with excessive mechanical stress.  This callus formation is the body’s defence mechanism to protect the foot against pressure and friction.  They normally found on the ball of the foot, the heel & the inside of the big toe.

How is Callus treated?

Successful management requires removal of the cause followed by treatment aimed at reducing pain & restoring normal skin function.  Management of symptoms by your podiatrist involves callus reduction with a scalpel to reduce pain, & padding & strapping to reduce the duration of loading and redistribute pressures.  Topical preparations available over the counter may also be useful when used regularly to reduce the amount of callus build up between visits to your podiatrist.

Orthotic therapy may also be an effective measure in preventing callus formation by pressure redistribution.  An effective orthotic device will transfer pressure away from the “hot spots” or high pressure areas where callus forms.

Choosing suitable footwear should also be a consideration in management of symptoms.  Ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate callus formation.

What is a corn?

Corns are small, circular areas of thick concentrated layers of skin created by the body in reaction to repeated excess pressure or friction.  There are four main types of corns, all of which may be painful over time.

Which type of corn is mine?


Soft Corns – This type of corn generally occurs between the toes & have a white, macerated and rubbery in appearance.  They are caused from abnormal pressures between the toes.

Hard Corns – This type of corn may appear on pressure areas underneath the foot & also over bony prominences where the skin is subject to excess pressure.   They appear small, dense & round in shape and are usually covered by callus.

Seed Corns – These corns can be found at non pressure & pressure sites and are normally painless. They are similar in appearance to hard corns & are usually associated with a dry skin type.

Vascular Corns–  A vascular corn is a hard corn that contains irregular patterns of small blood vessels in & around the corn itself.  Occasionally there may also be nerve endings penetrating the corn also.  These types of corns are caused by excess stress over an area for a long period of time.

What is the treatment for corns?

Treatment may include a change of footwear, regular debriding of the corn by your podiatrist every 4-8 weeks, and cushioning of the corn with felt and gel products.  Insoles & pads may also help relieve pressure and pain in between visits to your podiatrist.  People with Diabetes or poor circulation need to be especially diligent with the treatment of their corns as they are more at risk of developing ulcers & infections.

Your podiatrist will not only recommend ways to relieve pain & get rid of the corn or callus, but can also help with isolating the cause & preventing the problem recurring.

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