Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses (keratotic lesions or hyperkeratosis) are areas of thick hardened skin that form to initially protect the skin from friction or pressure. This thickening occurs as a natural defense mechanism that strengthens the skin in areas of friction or excessive pressure. Abnormal anatomy of the feet, such as hammer toes or other deformities can lead to corns and calluses. As the calluses and corns get larger they are hard and rough and begin to cause pain with pressure. Calluses and corns may appear grayish or yellowish in color and become less sensitive to touch in the affected areas of the feet.The difference between corns and calluses is their locations.

Calluses

Calluses form on the bottoms (plantar) aspect of the feet due to pressure. They are most commonly found on the balls of the feet, the heels, and bottoms of the great toes.

Corns

Corns are found on the toes. They have an inner core that can be hard or soft. A soft corn is found between the toes. Hard corns are found over the top (dorsal) or sides of the toe.

Corns and calluses are rarely serious except when occurring on individuals who are elderly or diagnosed with diabetes. These individuals are prone to ulcerations and infection if the calluses and corns are not treated. Corns and calluses are caused by repeated pressure or friction on an area of skin on the foot. The pressure causes the skin to dry out and form a hard rough surface. A corn is formed in the same way as a callus but the soft corns are exposed to perspiration in-between the toes, which causes the hard core to soften. Common causes for corns and calluses are tight shoes, high heel shoes put more pressure on the forefoot, shoes with thin soles that create more pressure on the balls of the feet, shoes without socks that increase friction, and sandals.

Treatment Options

The nail treatment is to prevent friction and pressure on the feet. After a shower or bath, use a pumice stone on the affected areas and apply a moisturizer to slow down the development of calluses and corns. Other treatment includes padding, topical medications, moisturizers, and debridement of the corns and calluses by a physician.