Corns and Calluses: What They Are and How You Can Prevent Them

Here’s the scene: you’re exercising outside once again. You’ve been walking the same three miles for weeks, but you’re committed to squeezing in a regular fitness time. When you get home, however, you notice that you’re starting to develop hard, thickened areas on your feet, and they don’t feel very pleasant. We’re glad that you’re being proactive in your health, so we hate to say this, but – you’ve probably got a callus or corn on your hands (well, feet).

When it comes to these podiatric issues, many patients interchange the terms “callus” and “corn.” They’re kind of the same thing and start with the same letter, so it must be true, right? Not so fast! While similar, corns and calluses are quite different and may appear for different reasons. Read on to learn about these issues and what you can do to treat them and keep them away!

What are Corns?

Corns are small, defined areas of thickened skin. They typically develop on smooth, bony areas of the foot like the joints and can cause pain when pressed. Corns have a distinct, hard center and are often mistaken for warts at first glance. Additionally, they can be either soft or hard, and they often develop due to bone pressure against the skin, arthritis, or tight, ill-fitting shoes.

What are Calluses?

Calluses, on the other hand, are larger, less-defined patches of thickened skin. They vary in size and form wherever there is repeated friction or pressure on the body such as the soles of your feet. Calluses are rarely painful to the touch since the skin is thicker. Situations that may cause calluses include walking barefoot and wearing high heels.

What Causes Corns and Calluses?

Several risk factors have been linked to a higher occurrence of these issues. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Wearing ill-fitting socks and too tight, high-heeled shoes
  • Wearing no socks
  • Walking barefoot regularly
  • Engaging in anything that causes friction or pressure on the skin
  • Repetitious actions such as walking or jogging

How Can I Treat Corns and Calluses?

Fortunately, most corns and calluses don’t require medical treatment. There are a few ways you can treat them easily at home! Here are some helpful tips:

  • Soak the corn or callus in warm water for about 10 minutes. Then, gently file it with a pumice stone using circular or sideways motions to slough off dead skin. Remember to avoid taking off too much – you don’t want to cause your skin to bleed or become infected! Dry thoroughly once you’re finished.
  • Use moisturizing cream or lotion on your feet every day. You’ll want products that include salicylic acid, urea, or ammonium lactate; these ingredients will help soften hard calluses and corns.
  • Pad the corn or callus. Adhesive patches and toe sleeves can be found at most pharmacies.
  • Wear proper shoes, avoid repetitive motions, and keep your toenails trimmed to remove pressure from your feet.

When Should I See a Podiatrist?

While most corns and calluses will go away on their own in time, there are times when it’s wise to see your podiatrist. Call if the problem persists, if you aren’t sure what the cause is, if skin is very painful or bleeding, or if you have diabetes. Ignoring these symptoms can create an even larger problem.

How Can I Prevent Corns and Calluses?

Aside from wearing well-fitting shoes and socks, a healthy lifestyle may help prevent these podiatric issues. We recommend maintaining proper hygiene, including washing your feet daily with soap and water, wearing clean socks every day, and keeping your toenails trimmed. A regular checkup with your podiatrist can also help prevent corns and calluses, as well as other podiatric ailments.

If you’re dealing with persistent corns or calluses, take action today! Schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center by calling (314) 487-9300.