Your body uses many different defensive methods to help protect itself. Your blood starts to clot when exposed to air to subdue the bleeding. Broken bones begin mending to regain the structure they provide. Your skin even gets into the act by developing calluses and corns to protect against pressure and friction that could cause it to wear down. Sometimes, though, these skin formations can result in pain or complications and require treatment.
Corn and Callus Causes and Risk Factors
Essentially, calluses are compacted layers of dead skin that develop as your body attempts to protect itself from repetitive pressure and external forces. Guitarists often have calluses on their fingertips as a result of hours spent practicing. Runners can develop calluses on their heels after running long distances. Calluses can be painful and often tend to vary in size and shape.
Conversely, corns appear as raised, conical bumps, instead of having the flat surface calluses do. They are also generally smaller in size and tend to feature centers that are hard compared to the inflamed skin surrounding them. Corns are generally caused by friction (as opposed to pressure) and form on non-weight bearing areas of the feet, like on the tops, sides, and between the toes.
These conditions do not directly cause pain on their own, but they can lead to painful situations when the areas are exposed to pressure. If the bottom of your foot has either a corn or callus and you are lying on a couch with your foot propped up on a pillow, it is rather unlikely you will be aware of any discomfort. However, when you stand up and start walking around, you may experience pain.
In most cases, these growths are caused by repetitive actions where pressure or friction is applied to your skin. Specific causes include things like wearing ill-fitting socks or shoes, or even forgoing socks altogether. Footwear that is tight and does not fit properly can compress your foot against the inside of the shoe and result in a corn or callus. This is especially true for high-heels. Shoes that are too loose can also cause problems when your feet are allowed to slide around inside them and rubs your skin against the interior. By skipping socks, your skin can experience friction directly from your shoes.
Various foot conditions and deformities can also make it more likely that you will develop a corn or callus, including bunions, and hammertoes, for example. Bunions are bony protrusions that jut out on the inside edge of the feet, at the big toe joint. If you have a bunion and your shoes are not wide enough, the protrusion will rub against the inside, which can lead to callusing.
Straightforward Diagnosis and Treatment
It is generally quite easy to diagnose calluses and corns. An examination by a podiatrist may be necessary is to rule out other potential conditions you may have, such as a cyst or a wart.
Treatment for corns and calluses can begin at home by simply avoiding or limiting the activities that initially resulted in their development. Other methods you can use include replacing shoes that do not fit properly, using protective pads for cushioning, and wearing comfortable, cushioned socks.
You can benefit from professional care when home treatment is not effective. We have several treatment options we can use, like paring down thickened skin in our office. It is important to note that you should not attempt this at home (especially if you have diabetes)! Doing so can put you at risk for infection or other issues.
We may prescribe callus-removing medication and provide instructions on how to effectively use a pumice stone. Customized shoe inserts (orthotics) can help prevent corns or calluses from recurring by redistributing pressure on your feet.
If home treatment has not achieved the results you were hoping to see, contact Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida so we can provide the effective care you need. Our offices are dedicated to your foot health and wellbeing, so give us a call at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (when calling from Lake County) or use our online form to request an appointment with any of our five Florida locations—Lake Mary, Orlando, Kissimmee, Tavares, and Altamonte Springs—to find out how we can help you today.