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Excessive pressure on the foot or friction with the insides of your footwear may lead to the development of new skin layers on the foot. This is accompanied by the deposition of keratin in these skin layers, giving it a hard, rough texture. This hard and raised bump, formed as a result of hyperkeratosis, is known as a foot corn.
A foot corn generally develops on, near, or between the toes, below the toenail bed, or on the sole of the feet. It appears as a thick, circular, raised area of skin and is composed of keratinized, dead, skin cell layers. (1)
Since foot corns can be a source of discomfort and complications, it is essential to treat them timely.
Causes of Foot Corn
The following factors may contribute to the development of a foot corn:
- Use of tight shoes, high heels, or ill-fitting shoes
- Prolonged standing
- Walking or running barefoot
- Not using socks with shoes
- Use of loose socks with lining
- Continuous pressure on the feet during activities
Signs and Symptoms of a Foot Corn
A foot corn is visible as a thick, rough, scaly bump on the skin. Corns are categorized into three types:
- Hard corn: It is yellow, thick, and firm, usually with a gray center.
- Soft corn: It resembles an open sore.
- Seed corn: It is usually small and develops on the foot sole.
Regardless of the type, a foot corn may manifest the following signs and symptoms:
- Discomfort while walking or standing
- Burning sensation
- Painful sensation on wearing shoes
Treatment for Foot Corns
The first-line treatment for foot corns involves measures to soften it and remove the thickened skin. These measures include soaking the feet in warm water or exfoliating using a pumice stone.
It is also essential to address the underlying cause to prevent recurrence. Therefore, you must remove any source of friction, irritation, or pressure on the foot corn. You may be required to change your shoe type or size.
Consult your doctor for the following orthotics to help relieve pressure:
- Shoe inserts or padding such as moleskin
- Toe separators
- Toe crest pads
- Toe caps
- Toe sleeves
Moreover, your doctor may suggest the following treatments, depending on the severity of the symptoms and any underlying medical condition:
- Salicylic acid and urea creams and gels for removing the corn
- Trimming the corn using a scalpel to remove the dead skin layers
- Oral antibiotics if there’s an infection
- Foot surgery for severe, painful corns, (2) especially those caused by bone structure problems, such as bunions or a hammer toe
- Cortisone injection for pain management
Diagnosing a Foot Corn
Foot corns can be easily diagnosed with a medical history and a physical examination. The doctor will look closely at the corn and examine the surrounding skin for sensitivity and sensation.
You may also be asked to walk around the room to determine your gait and ambulation. (3) An X-ray may be required in some cases.
It is essential to get a foot corn checked by a doctor, especially if you have a foot deformity or medical conditions such as diabetes, since a foot corn can appear similar to a wart.
Risk Factors Associated With a Foot Corn
The following factors can increase the risk of developing foot corns:
Complications of an Untreated Foot Corn
Foot corns are generally harmless and can be treated with simple remedies and removing the source of pressure and friction on the foot. However, when left ignored, foot corns can lead to the following complications:
- Difficulty walking and even standing due to pain
- Burning sensation
- Infections such as foot ulcers
- Oozing skin
- Blister formation
- Enlarged foot corns
When to See a Doctor
Foot corns are a common problem, but they can be managed by taking Epsom salt baths, exfoliating, and using corn pads. If these treatment methods do not show effective results, it is vital to consult a doctor.
Moreover, you must always get the foot corn checked if you have diabetes, poor circulation, or a lack of sensation in the feet.
Your feet carry your body weight throughout the day, and it is vital to rest your feet and wear comfortable footwear, as excessive walking or standing and wearing ill-fitting shoes can increase pressure and friction. This leads to the development of foot corns, which can be a source of great discomfort, often interfering with your daily activities.
Consult a podiatrist if you develop a foot corn, especially if you have diabetes or any foot deformity. The doctor will suggest remedies to get rid of the foot corn and to prevent any complications.