Caring For Corns And Calluses

Corns and calluses  are one of the most common foot ailments seen in our office.   Corns and calluses have slightly different presentations; however, both are caused by excessive pressure and can be exceedingly painful and irritating.  The most likely areas to develop calluses are on the sole of the foot, whereas corns typically show up on the outside of the fifth toe or in between the toes. 

Corns and calluses are more likely to develop if you wear ill-fitting shoes.  The compression from tight shoes or the excess rubbing from loose shoes creates the perfect opportunity for skin injury.  Wearing shoes without socks is another risk factor and can lead to excess rubbing and irritation.  Bony deformities, such as hammer toes or bunions, can also put you at an increased risk for the development of corns and calluses. 

The most common reason for seeking treatment is pain and unsightly appearance.  Our doctors may suggest any of the following treatment options, depending on the severity and recurrence pattern of your callus or corn:

  • Trimming – The excess skin can be trimmed off using a scalpel blade in the office.  You should not attempt trimming a corn or callus at home because of the risk of infection.

  • Chemical – Salicylic acid patches are available without a prescription and work by chemically paring down the excess skin. 

  • Footwear – If your shoes are a part of the problem, you may have to find better fitting footwear.  Custom made orthotics can also decrease the pressure in areas of corn and callus formation and decrease the risk of recurrence. 

  • At home - Recurrence after trimming can be decreased by soaking your foot in warm water and using a pumice stone to remove excess skin at home. 

  • Surgery – In severe cases, surgery may be required to fix the underlying bony deformity (e.g. a bunion or hammertoe). 

For most people, trimming and removing the source of pressure is sufficient to make the corn or callus disappear.  However, patients with diabetes or vascular complications (poor circulation) are at greater risk for complications from corns and calluses.  Individuals with either of these medical conditions should always consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.

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