A corn or callus is an area of hard, thickened skin on the foot that is caused by pressure or friction. They are actually a normal and natural way for the body to protect itself. For example, callus develops on the hand when chopping a lot of wood – it is a normal way for the skin to protect itself. In the foot, the skin will thicken up to protect itself when there are areas of high pressure. The problem occurs when the pressure continues, so the skin gets thicker. It eventually becomes painful.
If your corns or calluses are mild, reducing friction may help. Different shoes, moleskin patches or soft pads may be all the treatment you need. In more severe cases, reduction of the callus or corn by a foot care nurse or orthotics to reduce the pressure when you walk may be necessary to relieve the pain. It is important to investigate and deal with the causes of the pressure and friction.
The body protects skin tissues from pressure or friction damage by producing an area of hard skin so, unless the cause of the pressure or friction is found and removed, calluses and corns will continue to form. Over-the-counter treatments are acids, they work by breaking down the thickened skin but they also damage the healthy surrounding skin, if used incorrectly. Cutting corns or calluses yourself (bathroom surgery) is not without its dangers, especially if you cut yourself. In the warm and moist environment of enclosed shoes, infection can easily develop into a serious wound. Diabetics and those with decreased circulation should NEVER try to self treat corns and calluses because a minor cut can rapidly develop in to a serious infection.