Corns, also called clauses, are thickening of the skin that usually occurs on the feet due to constant friction and pressure. They can be extremely painful and left untreated, can lead to even more serious conditions like infections and complications for people with diabetes.
Corns are a very common problem faced by people. They often form on the feet and can be very easily treated at home, or with the help of a podiatrist. Though they are very common, there are still lots of questions surrounding them. Some questions that we aim to answer with this article are:
- What is a corn?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a corn?
- Is a corn serious?
- Do I have a verruca or corn?
- How to treat a corn
We’ve broken up this article into the above sections to make it easier for you to navigate! So, read on to have your questions answered.
What Is A Corn?
Corns are buildups of hardened areas of skin. They can form anywhere, but tend to show up on feet, hands, and fingers the most. They are usually round and relatively small, and you’ll most likely see them develop on the sides and tops of your toes. There are three distinct types of corns:
- Hard Corns: These are hard and dense, and usually form on the top of your toes, where your bones exert pressure on your skin. They usually reside within a bigger part of thickened skin.
- Soft Corns: Usually whitish grey in colour, with a slightly softer and rubbery texture, soft corns show up between your toes.
- Seed Corns: As the name suggests, seed corns are quite small. They normally form at the bottom of your feet.
Corns usually develop due to constant rubbing, friction, pressure, and irritation against the skin. This is why you will most likely see them appear on the bony part of your feet. This hardening layer is actually your body’s defence to protect the softer skin underneath from the pressure.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Corn?
Now that you know what a corn is, you’ll be easily able to identify it. You can identify a corn on your foot if:
- You have a hard bump on your skin, which is surrounded by a dry patch of skin
- You have a tender and raised lump on your skin, that is painful to pressure
Corns are often confused with calluses and verrucas (more on that later!). The main difference between corns and calluses is that corns are painful, while calluses are normally not painful. Corns have a central core that acts as a pressure point, which is the sensitive part the corn is protecting. So, when pressure is applied, corns tend to hurt.
Is Corn Serious?
Corns are often caused due to wearing ill-fitting shoes. As you continue to wear these shoes, your corn gets worse and painful to pressure. Corns aren’t serious, and they do go away with time if cared for well. When you remove the cause of the corn (ill-fitting footwear, for example), the corn will cease over time.
Corns can impact your day-to-day life due to pain while walking. Most corns are unproblematic, while some can become extremely painful or even infected. That’s why it’s always best to see a podiatrist when dealing with anything related to your feet.
Always see a podiatrist in case:
- Your corn is painful.
- If you suffer from diabetes, as untreated corns can develop into worse illnesses.
- If you cut your corn and it bleeds, the skin-break allows infections to pour in.
- Your corn is discharging pus or clear fluids. This means it’s either infected or has ulcers forming. Both of these require immediate medical care.
- If you suffer from heart disease, or other circulatory problems (like diabetes).
Do I Have A Verruca Or Corn?
As we mentioned earlier, corns are often confused with verrucas, which are a completely different issue altogether. There are a few key identifying factors when differentiating on whether you have a verruca or corn. These are just a few of many:
- Verrucas are viruses (often called the Verruca Infection) caused by HPV. They are highly contagious (commonly seen when children with HFM Disease interact with other children on playgrounds). Corns, on the other hand (or foot!), are cone-shaped pieces of hard skin that form on areas of pressure. They are formed by friction and are not contagious.
- Verrucas aren’t picky. They see all feet as fit for infection. Corns, however, tend to form on dryer skin.
- Verrucas have a long incubation period that can range from a couple of months to a year. Corns tend to form over a long period of time from constant pressure and friction, while Verrucas seem to kind of just “show up” out of the blue.
If you want to know more about how to differentiate between verrucas and corns, we have a few more articles that might help:
- Verruca Or Corn?: Spot the Difference and Treat Your Verruca Infection with Care
- What’s The Difference Between A Verruca And A Corn?
How To Treat A Corn
One of the most frequently asked questions about corns, is how to treat a corn. You’ll be happy to know that there are a few considerably painless methods a podiatrist will use to treat your corn. Here they are:
- Trimming: Your podiatrist will most likely remove your corn by trimming it down using a tool. You can try doing this at home by soaking your feet for around 20 minutes in order to make the skin soft. Then, go ahead and gently scrape away at the rough skin using a pumice stone.
- Chemical: This type of corn treatment for foot is similar to trimming, but uses chemical products instead to slowly dissolve the affected skin. A common product used is salicylic acid, which dissolves keratin (what dead skin is made of).
- Toe Protection / Footpads: Though not really a form of treatment, it’s worth mentioning. Using footpads can help ease the discomfort significantly. You can also use toe splints to prevent your toes from creating friction with each other.
A recommended at-home treatment is as follows:
- Soak the corn in warm water, for 5-10 minutes till the skin softens
- File the corn with a pumice stone. First, dip the stone in warm water then use it very gently against your corn. Make sure to use it in circular motions or sideways motions. This will remove the dead skin
- Don’t file it too much and take off too much skin, this can lead to bleeding and infections
- Use moisturizer/lotion on the area daily. Preferably one with salicylic acid, urea, or ammonium lactate.
- Use a piece of moleskin as padding. Cut the moleskin into two half-moon shapes and place it around the corn. To prevent your corn from constant shoe-contact, use a doughnut-shaped adhesive pad to protect it.
- Always wear shoes that fit you right.
Keep your toenails trimmed.
No matter what the issue is with your feet, it’s always best to see a podiatrist. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic. We’ll be able to help you with all your problems!