For as often as we cover it up and decorate it, it can be easy to forget that our skin is technically an organ, and that unsightly developments such as corns and calluses are a part of it doing its job. The primary function of the skin is to protect the inside of your body from outside hazards. When you see a rough patch on your feet, that’s a sign there’s a hazard that needs to be addressed.
Friction and pressure are the main dangers that a corn or callus is trying to protect the skin against. Find and eliminate the source of these factors, and a corn or callus will tend to disappear.
So what are the differences between these two skin shielding agents? Although often grouped together and due to similar reasons, corns and calluses are not the same thing. A corn tends to be the smaller of the two blemishes and develops more frequently on non-weight-bearing areas of the foot, such as along the top and between the toes. It will have a hard center and tends to be painful if pressed.
Calluses, by comparison, usually develop on the underside of the foot and are often larger or more “spread out.” They can vary in shape but are rarely a cause of pain.
The sources of friction and pressure on the feet can vary from person to person. Footwear is a common risk factor; especially the use of high heels that force a great deal more pressure on the front of the foot and toes. Wearing shoes without socks is another controllable factor. Sometimes, however, these blemishes can be the result of internal factors such as an abnormal gait or foot structure. These can cause the weight of the foot to be unevenly distributed, creating high-friction zones.
Smoothing Out the Rough Spots
Many times corns and calluses are not in need of immediate attention. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, however, it is very important to see a professional, as any mild injury has the potential to turn into a dangerous ulcer. Do not use "medicated" corn and callus removers. They contain an acid that can burn the skin. This is especially dangerous for diabetics or those with poor circulation. Otherwise, come and see us if your attempts to get rid of these rough spots have failed, or if they are painful and inflamed.
The main goals of treatment are to find the source of the problem and provide relief for any pain or discomfort you may have. Some options for care include:
Shoe Inserts – If a problem with gait or foot structure is the cause of these rough spots, a custom-made orthotic or insert can offload areas of high pressure and cause corns and calluses to gradually disappear.
Paring Excess Skin – We can carefully trim down a large, painful corn using sterile instruments. This is something you should absolutely not try at home, as it can lead to injury and infection.
Medication – Certain medications are available in patch or gel form that can be applied to gradually remove rough areas. Using these in conjunction with a pumice stone can be effective, but this is not recommended for everyone.
Corns and calluses can be a nuisance, but they can also be a sign of a deeper problem that needs addressing. If yours don’t go away with self-care, Dr. Kevin Powers in Bloomington, IN can work with you to take care of the problem head on. Schedule an appointment by calling (812) 333-4422 or using our online contact form.