Corns, just like calluses, are an area of thickened skin that occur in areas of pressure or friction. They are actually caused by a normal and natural way for the body to protect itself by increasing the amount of skin in the area so that you dont rub a hole in it. However, when too much skin forms and the increased layers of dead skin cells on the foot form a thick, hardend cone-shaped core it can cause a problem and we call it a corn. This hard area of skin can feel as hard as a rock and can put extra pressure on the skin below. Such high pressure in such a small area can inflame the tissue beneath the corn, and press on nerves leading to pain, discomfort and even bleeding. Corns normally occur in areas of high pressure such as on the joints of toes, between toes, or on the ball of the foot. The problems with corns normally occur when the pressure continues, such as with daily use of poor fitting shoewear, and the skin gets thicker and the tissue below it becomes more and more compromised until it becomes extrememly painful.
Corns generally occur over joints or bony prominences which are put under friction or pressure. Some common causes of typical hard corns include pointy toed shoes, high heels, tight fitting shoes or socks, shoes that cause the foot to slide forwards, toes rubbing on the tops of shoes or lack of fatty padding on the bottom of the foot. Soft corns are generally found between the toes and are often the result of two bones hitting together between the toes in a moist area causing softness. In some cases, soft corns can simply be due to the fact there is too much loose skin sagging between the toes.
Treatment and Prevention
Most Corns are simple to prevent because most corns are caused by shoe wear! Avoid the types of shoes that cause them and you should be fine. Make sure the shoe is secure without putting pressure on your toes and avoid shoes and socks that are way too loose or too tight. Wear gel cushions or paddings designed for specific areas of the foot if needed. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, try an orthotic or an insole that is cushioning to help reduce the force on the skin.
When it comes to treating Corns, it is best left to the professionals. Please seek the advice from your Podiatrist if you are unsure what is causing your corns and please, please, please avoid medicated corn pads! They are made from acid and often eat as much healthy tissue around the corn as they do from the corn itself leading to irritation, pain and even open wounds. Another thing to avoid is cutting them out yourself, most people end up in trouble by doing this and often achieve little, as they miss the core of the corn which can be difficult to remove.