A callus or corn is a thickened layer of skin. They often occur in places on the foot that experience a lot of friction, such as the areas where two toes meet. Calluses tend to be larger than corns. Some people have a callus covering their entire heel. A corn is usually smaller and more localized. Both corns and calluses can be on the same foot at the same time.
Symptoms of Calluses and Corns
Calluses and corns may hurt when you move. The pain may be more noticeable when your skin is also dry. The corn or callus could crack or bleed, and infection is possible. The skin of a callus or corn can flake off, and the area may become itchy. The thickened, hardened skin may also cause general irritation when you walk, run or dance.
Why Calluses or Corns Develop on Feet
Friction causes the development of calluses and corns on feet. Repeated episodes of friction cause the outer layers of skin to die but not fall off of the foot. The dead skin forms as thick layers in a specific place. With a corn, a small area of sweat gets trapped in the dead layers of skin. This causes a core to develop. The core is usually softer than the perimeter. Calluses and corns often develop as a result of ill-fitting footwear or running or walking barefoot. They can also form on an area of a foot that has a problem, such as a hammertoe, bunion, bone spur or rheumatoid arthritis bump.
Treatments for Calluses and Corns
Using protective pads and cushions on areas prone to calluses and corns can prevent them from recurring. You can also have your feet sized and purchase footwear that does not rub anywhere on your feet.
A podiatrist can remove the thickened layers of skin with a special type of scalpel designed for this purpose. Podiatrists may also prescribe a callus or corn-reducing medication that is applied to the foot. Between applications of the medicated patches, you can use a pumice stone to smooth away some of the dead skin. If you are at an increased risk of foot infections, the podiatrist may prescribe an antibiotic. Wearing shoe inserts may also help with the prevention or elimination of corns and calluses.