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Corns & Callus

So you've started to find that the skin on specific areas of your feet have become tougher, harder, feel thicker, and sometimes painful. Is this just hard skin or callus? Can you leave it alone?

Hyperkeratosis is a thickening of the skin and can form on areas that are prone to repetitive pressure or friction. Callus is just one type of this, occurring over a large area and normally not painful. It is generally uniform in thickness and may be found around the nail, the ball of the foot and the back of the heel.

A Corn is another type of hyperkeratotic lesion, but very well demarcated in that occurs in a localized spot, and has a central core that pushes deep into the skin. These are very often painful when pressure is placed upon them. Of course it's not that straight forward... There are multiple types of corn, from the common hard corn, to soft corns and neurovascular corns.

Causes of Callus and Corns

Generally Callus, or thickened tough skin, is caused by friction. So it's the movement of your foot up against something else which over time causes the body to protect itself by building up extra layers of skin (keratin).

A Corn is what is formed when there is an abnormal amount of pressure placed on part of the foot over a period of time. This pressure could be intrinsically e.g. a bone or joint, or extrinsically e.g. footwear, activity.

Risks of having Callus and Corns

So what's the problem with having hard skin on your feet? It's protective right? They may not directly be a problem, but they could be a sign that something else isn't right. A build-up of callus will change your foot shape, which in turn may affect your gait (the way you walk), the fitting of your shoes, and could be hiding another lesion, such as an ulcer beneath it.

If you have a systemic condition such as Diabetes or Rheumatoid Arthritis then it is even more important to have the callus and corns assessed.

Treatment for Callus and Corns

Most callus can be either filed away using a emery board, soaking your feet in a saline solution or regular application of an emollient or moisturiser. This may treat the symptom but it does not stop the cause. A visit to your podiatrist will help to find the root cause of the problem.

A corn will need to be physically removed using a scalpel by a Podiatrist, and then an assessment carried out to find the cause and decide on changes to ensure a recurrence does not occur.

In a nut shell...

  • Callus can be an innocent, temporary condition, or it may be hiding something more ominous such as an ulcer. An assessment by a Podiatrist will be able to assess the cause, remove the callus and advise on future steps to reduce the chance of return.

  • Corns are a simple but uncomfortable condition that can be quickly and easily remedied by your Podiatrist. Once the corn is removed a straightforward assessment can help to stop a recurrence.

Don't live with painful feet - See a Podiatrist!

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