Corns and Calluses

Dorothy did a lot of walking, running, and dancing in “The Wizard of Oz,” but with her magic red shoes, she probably never had to worry about such mundane things as corns and calluses. In the real world, the one we all inhabit, it’s a different story. If our shoes don’t fit exactly right, our feet are constantly exposed to friction and irritation, and that can cause problems.

Corns and Calluses: What’s the Difference?

Whenever your skin is irritated, it responds by building up an extra layer of skin cells to protect itself from harm. The more friction there is, the thicker the layer it builds, and the outside cells turn dry and hard. When these rough, bumpy places form on the bottom of the feet they are commonly called calluses. If they form on the top areas, they are known as corns. Another difference is that calluses are usually larger areas of general thickening, and corns are often smaller round patches where a particular joint is irritated.

What Do They Look Like?

The skin of these areas is usually rough, and may look dull or have a whitish or yellowish tone. It may be raised above the surrounding skin and resemble a wart in appearance. Hard corns on the top of toes, or on the outside of the little toe, can have a hard, dense center. A soft corn between the toes will show red and tender skin with a smooth center. You can also develop a seed corn, which is a little plug of dead skin in the ball or heel of the foot that is painful.

Who Gets Them?

Anyone can get these hard bumps on their feet, but if you have deformities like hammertoes or bunions you will be more prone to them. Women who wear high heels that force all their weight onto the balls of their feet may end up with calluses there. Athletes or people whose jobs have them standing all day will often experience more friction on their feet and be more prone to form these patches of extra skin.

How are they treated?

Mild cases will probably not need any treatment. If the corns and calluses are painful, there are several things you can do at home to relieve the discomfort. After your shower, bath, or foot soak, gently use a pumice stone, stroking in one direction to remove the dead skin and follow with a good moisturizer. Use over-the-counter pads or cushions to reduce friction on the area. You may want to look for new shoes that fit better and don’t allow your feet to move around and rub against the sides.

If you have a lot of pain, or the problem gets worse in spite of your home care, it’s time to call your podiatrist. Dr. David Guhl and Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl will examine your feet and analyze what is causing the corns and calluses to form. They can safely remove the build-up of skin right in the office and recommend medications that may help soften the areas. Podiatric care is especially important if you have diabetes or circulation problems, as infection and more serious complications can set in with improper care. Contact Waukesha Foot Specialists in Waukesha, WI at (262) 544-0700 to set up an appointment, or you can request an appointment online. We want to help your feet to great health!

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