Corns are calluses that form on the toes because the bones push up and exert pressure on the skin. The surface layer of the skin thickens and builds up, irritating the tissues underneath. Hard corns are usually located on the top of the toe or on the side of the small toe. Soft corns resemble open sores and develop between the toes as they rub against each other.
Every day, the average person spends several hours on his feet and takes several thousand steps. Walking puts pressure on your feet equivalent to 2-3 times your body weight. No wonder your feet hurt!
Actually, most foot problems can be blamed not on walking but on your shoes. This is certainly the case with corns. If shoes are too tight, they squeeze the foot, increasing pressure. If they are too loose, the foot may slide and rub against the shoe, creating friction. Other causes may include toe deformities, such as hammer toe or claw toe; high heeled shoes, because they increase the pressure on the forefoot; and socks that don’t fit properly.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Corns are usually readily apparent. They may have a tender spot in the middle, surrounded by yellowish dead skin.
Treatment of corns is usually conservative at first. Try soaking your feet regularly and using a pumice stone or callus file to soften and reduce the size of corns and calluses. Wearing a donut-shaped foam pad over the corn will also help relieve the pressure. Use non-medicated corn pads; medicated pads may increase irritation and result in infection. You can also use a bit of lamb’s wool (not cotton) between your toes to help cushion soft corns. If these measures do not relieve the pain, your doctor may trim the corn by shaving off dead layers with a scalpel. Do not attempt this yourself, particularly if you have poor circulation or eyesight, or a lack of feeling in your feet.