Corns and Calluses
Got thick, ugly patches of skin on your feet? There’s a good chance you have a corn or a callus.
Corns and calluses are closely related conditions (sometimes considered different expressions of the same condition), each involving thickening of the outermost layer of skin, or epithelium. Calluses tend to be broad and flat and located along the bottom of the foot, where you bear weight; corns appear on top of or between toes and may feature inflamed skin surround a hard center.
While neither corns nor calluses are generally painful on their own (and calluses are almost never painful in any circumstance), corns might elicit pain when pressed.
How Corns and Calluses Form
Corns and calluses form as a natural “defense” against long-term friction and pressure—when the skin detects increased pressure on a focal area, it responds by thickening the epithelium to provide extra padding.
That long-term pressure could be generated from one or more potential sources. Often there is an underlying deformity in the bone creating that pressure, but environmental factors such as ill-fitting shoes, skipping socks, or repetitive friction from walking or certain activities could be involved.
If you’re healthy and have no underlying medical conditions that could pose complications (such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease), you may be able to clear up a corn or callus through the application of home care. Start by gently soaking your feet in lukewarm soapy water—just a normal bath or shower is fine here—then use a pumice stone or emery board to gently file away a layer of tough, dead skin. Just remember, there’s a very fine line between removing just enough skin vs too much skin, so never remove more than one layer and never, under any circumstances, use a razor or any other sharp tool on your corn or callus.
It’s also a good idea to use moisturizer regularly to keep skin soft and use non-medicated pads to protect an exposed corn or callus against additional friction. Avoid pads that use salicylic acid or other compounds, since they can damage healthy skin.
If, however, you do have diabetes or another potential complicating condition, you should check with us before making any attempt at home care.
Our office provides treatments to reduce or remove an existing corn or callus in a safe and controlled environment, as well as preventative care. This is recommended if you have diabetes, or if for any reason your corns or calluses are painful or commonly recur.
While we strongly advise against “bathroom surgery” due to the risk of infection, our trained experts can trim away excess skin much more safely. As there are no nerve endings in the outermost layer of skin, there should be little if any pain associated with this debridement procedure. We can also determine whether medicated pads, antibiotic ointments, or other medical remedies (over the counter or prescription) would be appropriate in your situation.
We’ll also perform a thorough examination of your feet and ankles to determine whether any biomechanical factors are contributed to chronic corn or callus formation, and determine the best preventative countermeasures. This could include shoe inserts (such as custom or prefabricated orthotics) to relieve pressure points, or in some cases surgery to correct a bunion, hammertoe, or other deformity or misalignment that could be the source of friction.
If you need a professional evaluation or treatment for corns or calluses, please give Dr. Keith McSpadden of North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call today. We have two convenient offices to serve you—one in Cedar Park, and another in Round Rock. Schedule by dialing (512)593-2949.