Callus and corns – what is the difference?

You might notice some heel cracks, or dry, hard skin under your feet, or on your toes, or in between your toes. It may even be painful.

But what is it?

And how can I get rid of it?

Chances are you either have callus, or corns.

Callus, or hyperkeratosis as often referred to as by doctors, is a hard, thickened, yellowish plaque of skin.

It is commonly found underneath the feet on weight-bearing/high pressure areas.

Callus can be painful to walk on and the cause of much discomfort.

Heavy callus on the heels can even result in the skin cracking and bleeding.

Some people have described feeling like they’re walking on stones, or may even notice stabbing pain or aching.

Corns are darker, harder areas of skin that have a deep center/core piercing into the deeper layers of the skin.

Corns can appear either with or without callus, and are frequently very painful.

Similarly to callus, corns tend to appear on pressure bearing areas of the feet, either a weight bearing area, or where shoes are rubbing, or even your own toes rubbing against each other.

Patients often describe the sensation of something sharp stuck in the skin/shoe, or even something digging into the foot, like a small stone.

In long standing cases, the pressure can result in the skin breaking down under the corn, resulting in an ulcer.

To relieve the pain and pressure, the core needs to be dug out/enucleated.

                       

As both corns and callus are a result of pressure, to “get rid of” them permanently is often difficult as the pressure needs to be removed. However, the pain discomfort and unsightly appearance can be removed instantaneously by seeing a podiatrist.

Initially, the best treatment for callus is to see a podiatrist. They will remove all callused skin from your feet, leaving you with lovely smooth skin. The podiatrist will then advise on the best maintenance treatment for you. This may involve specially recommended foot creams for the type of callus you have, and/or the use of a file or pumice stone. The podiatrist may also recommend footwear changes to assist in reducing the callus and corn regrowth. When the callus or corn regrows to a painful level it is ideal to revisit your podiatrist.

As a side note, you may be familiar with some chemist treatment for corn or callus removal, please be aware that some of these products contain acids aimed at burning away the hard skin of the callus or corn. If the treatment area is larger than the callus or corn, it will burn your good skin and you can end up with a more serious injury, sometimes even an ulcer. These treatments do come with a warning for people with diabetes, or peripheral neuropathy, but even if you do not have one of these conditions, please be mindful if you choose to use them.

 

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