What is a foot corn, exactly? We have all seen them, and many of us have them…or have had them!. Those angry, often dry and scaly looking bumps on our toes or someone else’s. The Mayo Clinic describe foot corns like this:
“Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure..”
Corns are one of the most commonplace things we see on people’s feet. They are also super unattractive, even more so perhaps, than bunions or hammer toes. Corns are very prominent on the toes and just seem to pop out when artfully framed by a sandal strap or open toed heels.
Although corns are can make us feel we have ugly feet, they don’t cause any sort of health risk or physical danger to you unless for some reason they become infected. Corns are really just more like thick, concentrated calluses.
Risk factors for developing corns
Who is most likely to suffer from corns on their feet? There are actually a few factors that lead to a higher risk:
1. Wearing shoes that don’t fit / Not wearing socks
You have probably noticed that toe corns are quite prominent on the side of the pinky toe where they tend to rub on shoe straps, particularly when there are no socks to buffer them. They are also commonly on the tops of the toes closest to the pinky toe. This results from wearing shoes that are very narrow or tight in the front of the foot. The more the toes rub against the top of the shoe, the more likely you are to develop a foot corn.
2. Hammer Toes
Hammer toes are a condition caused when the toe joints contract, causing them to bend or curl under. The resulting pressure of the toes against shoes can lead to corns and calluses.
There are actually a few types of corns. There are hard corns, soft corns, and seed corns. The corns that we are talking about here are hard corns that appear on the top of the foot. They are typically seen on the outer 3 toes.
A hard corn is really just a section of dead skin. Hard corns typically appear where there is bone underneath, a result of the friction of the bony toe against the shoe surface. As it grows, the skin on the corn becomes thicker, and develops a hard core similar to a wart. It is this core of the corn that causes pain when it is pressed against the nerve endings of the toe.
Corns are usually round, and often look red or inflamed. They may have a waxy appearance, or may look dry. Often times pressure against an established corn can cause the skin on the top to peel. This can lead to secondary discomfort.
Treatment options for foot corns
Corns can be treated, the pain relieved, and the corn itself removed in most cases. There are ways to treat corns at home, but there are times when it’s necessary to have a doctor take a look. Some of the possible treatment options for foot corns include:
- Shoes: Shoe fit is typically the number one reason for corns developing on the toes. Our feet are as different as our fingerprints… No two are alike! Consider having your foot evaluated… You may be surprised! Vendors like The Good Store can assess your arches, which may make changes to your gait. A comprehensive foot examination by a podiatrist may reveal a lot of information and suggestions for prevention.
Although it’s great to wear fashionable shoes, it’s more important to make sure your shoes are comfortable and fit correctly to avoid not only corns, but other foot conditions. If your shoes are too small, your toes will be crammed into the toe of the shoe, causing it to rub against the top of the shoe or the toe cap, causing irritation. If your shoes are too large, the same will happen as your foot moves loosely back and forth within the shoe as you walk.
- Over the counter remedies: There are many over-the-counter options for reducing pain and discomfort, as well as removing cords.There are corn cushions, lambswool reps, and foot creams. Some of these contain acids designed to gently remove the corn.
- Corn Removal: You can have your corns removed by a podiatrist. (Particularly for people with diabetes, poor circulation, or other serious illnesses, it is important to have your feet checked by a podiatrist.) A podiatrist will actually shave the corn away, a simple procedure. Corns can recur however so you may have to go back for a second treatment.
Corns, although unsightly, are one of the foot conditions that are easier to address. Take care of your feet and get rid of those corns!