Our podiatrist, Sarah Boswell, talks about the difference between corns & callouses; how to treat them, what to avoid and how to prevent them in the future!
What Causes Callouses?
Callouses forms when skin becomes thick and hardened, caused by pressure and friction to an area. While most of us think of these areas of thick skin as simply unsightly, calluses are pressure spots that can be painful when you walk or try to do exercise.
Interestingly, a callous is the body's way of preventing painful blisters from developing. Without callouses, the pressure and friction would irritate your skin to the point of creating those painful, fluid-filled bubbles you know as blisters.
However, that doesn't help if your calluses—often on the ball of the foot, the heel, or the edge of bunions or hammertoes—keep you from walking or running around comfortably.
What Causes Corns?
There are two types of corns; soft corns and hard corns. Soft corns are usually between the toes and have a softer, whiter appearance, whereas a hard corn has a much harder centre similar to a callous.
What is the Difference Between Corns & Callouses?
The difference between a callouse and a corn is a callouse tends to be somewhat flat to the skin, whereas a corn protrudes usually in a cone shape into the foot which is why they can sometimes feel like a stone. Corns usually form under the ball of the foot or heel, as well as the outer sides of toes.
Stay clear of corn pads as these contain a weak acid that can damage healthy skin if the plaster moves a little. It also doesn’t remove the core of the corn because as previously mentioned, a corn tends to sit deeper in the skin and a bit of the callous tends to always be missed. It is better to get them professionally removed by a podiatrist.
Soft corns are a little different and usually occur between the toes. These are sometimes called interdigital corns and a great effective treatment after initial debridement (removal of corn) is a toe spacer or a silicone toe sock.
Other corn treatment options include footwear modification. This is perhaps one of the most important steps in ensuring corns stop recurring. This is because if you have a shoe that is too tight or has inadequate depth, your toes can become pressed together and rub over time. So, make sure to stay away from pointy toes if you’re prone to corns.
Foot Friendly Shoes
If you’re having difficulty finding some good shoe brands, some that I personally like are Bared, Ziera and Frankie 4. These shoes are not only good quality, but usually work closely with Podiatrists in the design process to ensure the toe box has adequate room. A lot of the time they have removable inner soles which allows your toes to drop lower into the shoe.
At Home Treatment
A great way to treat hard skin spots at home is to regularly apply moisturiser or cream! I cannot stress this enough as it is probably one of the most neglected parts of self-care I see.
Moisturising your feet not only keeps the callous or corn softer, but it can help prevent painful cracking that occurs when the skin dries out.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water too as keeping hydrated regularly can really affect skin moisture levels.
With painful, large and recurring corns particularly around the ball of the feet, forefoot pads under the ball of the foot either in the shoe or taped to the foot can be implemented to offload the area and make it more comfortable whilst walking as well as delaying the formation of the corn as quickly.