We all must endure some friction in our lives.
Although we tend to think of it more in a figurative sense, friction can happen in a very physical way as well. Just ask your feet.
You’ve probably developed a blister on the back of your heel at least once in your life from an ill-fitting shoe, but friction and pressure can lead to longer-lasting corns and calluses, too.
Rough times can cause rough patches on your feet. What are the differences between corns and calluses? Even better, what can you do about them?
Why You Get Corns and Calluses
Our skin is quite an adaptive organ (yes, it’s an organ). It must be, since it’s exposed to the elements. Our feet most often face the front lines of the world, either bare or in shoes.
When the friction and pressure becomes too consistent on a patch of skin, it will thicken to try and protect itself. This results in a corn or callus.
A callus usually develops on the sole of the foot. They vary in size, but are generally flatter and larger than corns. They rarely hurt.
A corn tends to be more raised than a callus, with a hard center and often painful or inflamed skin. While they can be found in high pressure areas, they more often form where there is not so much weight pressing down on them. This can include along the tops and sides of the toes, especially where they may rub against a shoe.
Corns and calluses often develop from shoes that are too tight against the foot. The shape of a shoe, such as a high heel, can cause added pressure to develop toward the front of the foot, also causing these conditions.
Socks that do not fit well can also raise one’s risk, as cannot wearing socks at all within shoes or sandals. (If you remember Miami Vice, we’re afraid you shouldn’t try to copy that look.)
Having certain foot deformities will also increase one’s chances of developing corns and calluses, simply by creating more opportunity for the skin to rub against footwear or itself. Bunions and hammertoes are conditions that very commonly cause friction.
Treatments for Corns and Calluses
In many cases, a corn or callus can be resolved by stopping the source of friction and pressure responsible for it. This may involve changes in footwear or using protective padding in shoes.
Sometimes, however, a corn or callus is too stubborn, too painful, or the condition causing it can’t be resolved easily. If your problems persist no matter what you try, it’s time to come in and see us.
An appointment will include an examination of the area, and we might need to rule out other problems that cause thick skin, such as plantar warts.
Once we narrow down the problem and its causes, we may recommend various types of care:
- Trimming Down the Skin. We carefully shave off thickened skin with a scalpel to help reduce pressure and pain. This is something you should never attempt to do yourself, as an errant cut could lead to an infection.
- Medication. Medicated patches containing salicylic acid can help reduce the thickened skin. These can be prescribed, but some versions are also available over-the-counter.
- Shoe Inserts. If padding is not enough, orthotic inserts may be needed to redistribute force and weight upon the foot.
- Soaking and Pumice Stone. It may be recommended to soak your feet at home and carefully remove thickened skin with a pumice stone. This is relatively safe, but caution is advised as to not cause injury. Diabetic patients must not try this, as their risks of infection are too high.
In some rare cases, especially if a deformity is contributing to the problem, surgery might be recommended to correct the issue. We would discuss all options fully with you to ensure any decisions such as this are made confidently and with best recommendations.
Let’s Smooth Things Out
If corns or calluses are causing you discomfort, our El Paso offices are here to help! We can provide help for these painful bumps, as well as a variety of other skin and nail conditions including fungal nails, warts, and ingrown nails.
Call our Curie Drive location at (915) 533-5151 or our George Dieter location at (915) 856-3331. You can also fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you.