When you have a patch of skin that’s frequently subjected to friction and pressure, eventually the skin thickens to protect itself against the regular contact. When this happens on the toes and feet, these patches are called corns and calluses.
If you’ve ever experienced a blister from a new pair of shoes, you may find that after the blister heals, the skin in that area starts to get hard and rough. People with bunions, a deformation of the big toe, frequently develop corns and calluses where the big toe rubs against the second toe.
In many cases, corns and calluses require no treatment. Sometimes simply wearing different shoes, for example, relieves the friction and the thick skin vanishes over time. There are cases, however, where the corn or callus causes discomfort. If you have diabetes, any change to the skin of your feet is a potential issue.
It comes down to size, for the most part. Corns are smaller, and may be surrounded by swollen or inflamed skin. Typically developing on the top or sides of toes or between your toes, corns often start in places that don’t bear weight. Usually, if you have pain, it’s from a corn.
Callouses are most often found on the bottom of your feet. They’re rarely painful and usually larger and less regular in shape than corns. Though the pain associated with corns may lead you more readily to Dr. Rosen, make an appointment if either a corn or callus becomes inflamed or sensitive.
If your hardened skin resists conservative treatment, such as changing shoes, adding pads, or other home remedies, Dr. Rosen has several possible treatments, depending on the location and severity of your problem.
For cosmetic treatment, over-the-counter patches containing salicylic acid and can cause severe burns and infections. These should never be used. One can reduce the appearance of a corn or callus, with the use of a pumice stone or emery board. Dr. Rosen can also remove excess skin under controlled conditions in the office. Custom orthotics may relieve corns and calluses resulting from foot deformities. In rare cases, surgery to correct bone alignment may be a solution.