Many people suffer from painful corns and calluses which can seriously affect the way we walk. If they’re not corrected, they can lead to knee, hip and back problems.
Corns are plugs of hard skin that develop as a result of friction and pressure. Sometimes they are caused by poorly fitting footwear, but also by some forms of foot deformity such as clawed toes or bunions.
There are three types of corns:
Hard corns (heloma durum) – often found on top of toe joints or underneath the heads of your metatarsals, the five long bones in your foot. They can feel like you’re walking with a stone in your shoe.
Seed corns (heloma millare) – they can form little clumps on the plantar (bottom) surface of the foot usually around the metatarsals but sometimes on the heels and midfoot. They look like small seeds, hence the name.
Soft corns (heloma molle) – always found in between toe spaces, usually between the fourth and fifth toes. They can be very painful and difficult to treat in one session due to the toe joints rubbing together, but generally padding between the toes and a change of footwear, combined with removal of the offending hard skin, can be a successful remedy. They’re said to be ‘soft’ because the area often doesn’t get chance to dry out because of the proximity of the adjacent toe.
A callus is a broader thickened layer of hard skin which is usually the result of friction and pressure.
We can relieve your pain in the short term by removing the patches of hard skin. Long term relief is possible if we review and improve the style and fit of your shoes, sometimes with simple insoles that distribute your weight across the foot. Occasionally, made-to-measure orthotic devices can help if it is necessary to change the biomechanics of the foot.
Other good ways of preventing corns and calluses are:
Daily use of a good moisturising cream or emollient like E45, aqueous cream or, any specific foot lotion to keep the skin hydrated and soft.
Stop smoking – smoking seriously affects blood circulation and therefore the quality of skin on the feet. We often see heavy smokers in the clinic with much larger and more painful corns than in those who don’t smoke.
Buy suitable footwear. Wear shoes that allow enough room for the toes to move around without any pressure on them. Sadly, many ladies’ shoes won’t allow this, but don’t worry, you can wear fashionable footwear occasionally without major problems. Just don’t wear them all the time.