Calluses and corns general information
Calluses and corns are areas of skin that is thickened, hardened or dead. They are formed in order to protect the skin and other structures underneath from pressure, friction or trauma. They may have a yellowish color, even gray or may be less sensitive to touch than surrounding skin; they can look rough (irregular). Calluses on the hands and feet are normal in an active person; they become a problem when they grow enough to be painful.
Calluses usually form on the hands and feet, although they can appear anywhere there is pressure on the skin, such as the elbows or knees.
Calluses on the hands usually develop on the fingers. They are usually painless and can be useful. For example, a carpenter can develop calluses that protect his hands from abrasion or cuts while working. A tennis player might develop calluses on his hands to protect him from pressure or from rubbing the tennis racket handle.
Calluses on the feet are formed on the sole, heel and under the thumb. Other frequently met forms are on the big toe (which is protecting the distal end of metatarsal bone).
Corns are usually found where toes rub together. Corns have an inner part which can be hard or soft. A soft corn is usually found between the toes (usually between fingers 4 and 5), a hard corn is often found above the finger 5.
- Calluses and corns general information
- Calluses and corns causes
- Calluses and corns symptoms
- Calluses and corns treatment
- Calluses and corns Complications
Calluses and corns Causes
Calluses and corns are caused by repeated pressure and friction on the skin over a period of time. Pressure causes formation of hard protective surfaces on the skin, or even death of the skin. A soft corn is formed in the same way, but it’s softened by sweat. This phenomenon occurs especially between the toes. Calluses and corns are not caused by a virus and are not contagious.
Regularly and frequently handling of an object that puts pressure on the hand, such as tools (gardening or carpentry for example) or sports equipment (tennis racket for example) typically determines the occurrence over time of calluses on your hands.
Calluses and corns on the feet are usually caused by pressure from shoes: tight shoes put pressure on the sides of the foot, while shoes with high heels put pressure on the front side of the foot.
Loose shoes cause foot slipping and rubbing against the shoe.
Shoes with too thin soles create increased pressure on the sole, unlike shoes with thicker soles. Wearing sandals and shoes without socks can lead to increased friction. The foot may rub against a seam or reinforcement inside the shoe. Socks that do not fit can create increased pressure where the sock is too loose.
Walking barefoot also creates calluses.
Calluses and corns often develop on the deformities caused by rheumatoid arthritis, frames, two pointing fingers or toes too claw. Calluses and corns on the feet can be caused by repeated pressure due to sports (such as the leg callus from the athlete’s foot), an abnormal gait, abnormal bone structure such as flat feet or Bone spurs (small, bony growths that form in the joint region).
Calluses and corns Symptoms
Symptoms include pain when walking and difficulty in wearing certain shoes. Pressing and squeezing calluses and corns can also cause pain.
You can identify if it is a callus or a corn by analyzing the skin. A callus is dry, hardened and with a yellowish or gray aspect. It may be less sensitive to touch than surrounding skin and may look rough (irregular).
A hard corn is also firm and hardened; it may present a soft yellow ring with a gray center. A soft corn looks like an open wound.
A callus or corn can sometimes be mistaken for a wart. Warts are generally soft and painful when applying pressure on the sides, while calluses and corns are painful when applying direct pressure.
Other clinical conditions that may resemble calluses and corns include:
– An object in the skin like a splinter under the skin
– Metatarsal synovitis (inflammation of the joint capsule from the distal end of the metatarsus bone)
– A neuroma (Morton neuroma): a nerve cell growth
– Areas of congenital (inherited) hardened skin.
Calluses and corns are usually diagnosed by physical examination. If they are located on the legs, the patient will be asked to remove his shoes and socks, and then the feet will be examined. If they have a different location, such as the knees or elbows, the specialist will also examine these areas. Your doctor may ask questions about work, about hobbies and what type of shoes the patient wears.
If the specialist thinks there is a problem with the leg bones, he may ask for an x-ray of the foot.
If calluses and corns are located on a close-to-the-bone surface or on a non-obvious pressure point, the specialist can look at another cause, such as skin cancer or a genetic cause.
If the patient has diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy or other conditions that can cause circulatory problems or numbness, he should communicate these to the specialist. These diseases can alter the treatment plan.
Calluses and corns don’t necessarily need treatment, but they can cause pain. Pain treatment usually consists of removing the cause of pressure or friction and allowing a healing time. Initial treatment generally involves home treatment. This includes carefully choosing the footwear, use of pumice stone and use of salicylic acid.
If the patient has diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness, he must consult a specialist before initiating any treatment.
Depending on the location of the callus or weft, whether there is a case of diabetes, peripheral arterial disease or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness, treatment options include:
– consulting a specialist for reducing callus or weft: specialist can do this in his office using a small knife.
– Reducing the size of callus by soaking the feet in warm water, then using pumice stone to gently remove the dead skin: do not cut corns or calluses using scissors, especially if you suffer from diabetes, peripheral arterial disease or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness
– wearing wider shoes that fit well: this will prevent pressure on your toes
– Use a felt padding and orthopedic inserts in order to keep the feet and toes in a more comfortable position and in order to prevent friction: a specialist can help you decide what padding to use and in which position
– Use of salicylic acid to soften the callus, which can be removed later using pumice.
Some specialists don’t recommend using salicylic acid because it can affect the surrounding skin. If salicylic acid is used, it should only be applied on the surface of callus.
Operations are rarely used as a treatment for calluses and corns. However, if there is an underlying bone structure, such as two mounted fingers which are causing the callus or weft, surgery can be used to modify or remove that particular bone structure.
Surgery can be used only if other treatments have failed. If the treatment has not worked on the soft corns, the skin between the two fingers can be sewn together. This creates a kind of partial tissue where the soft corn used to be. On this spot, another corn can never form again.
Calluses and corns Complications
Untreated calluses and corns can cause pain when walking or wearing certain shoes; they can cause changes in posture while trying to avoid pain, inflammation of the structure between the bone and skin (bursitis), the appearance of vesicles (blisters), bone infection (osteomyelitis), bacterial infection of the joint (septic arthritis) or skin ulceration.
If the patient has diabetes, the risk of leg skin ulcers increases. In a study that included more than 200 feet ulcers due to diabetes, patients who were treated for calluses had fewer foot ulcers, fewer doctor visits and fewer surgical treatments of ulcers.
Pumice should be used carefully when removing or reducing the size of a callus or corn. If you remove too much skin and go too deep, it can lead to bleeding and infection.
Some insoles contain drugs included in the fabric. This type of insole is better to be avoided because it softens the skin too much and can cause infection. If the callus or corn produces too much pain and persists for a long period of time, you should consult an orthopedist.
Calluses and corns can be prevented by reducing or eliminating the cause of pressure on the skin:
– wear adequate shoes;
– wear appropriate socks: loose socks can be piled in the shoe, creating pressure
– use gloves while working with different tools
– if other parts of the body are exposed to friction, use materials that can reduce the friction: for example, if you spend a lot of time on your knees, wear kneepads.