What are calluses
Our feet play an important role in getting us around. When we walk or stand our feet carry the burden of our body weight as well as bearing the various pressures of movement and the constraints of footwear.
Sometimes, pressure placed on the foot becomes out of balance and extra friction falls on particular areas of the foot. When this happens the body may respond to the pressure by producing thickenings in the surface layer of the skin. These hard patches of skin are called calluses and are part of the body’s defence system to protect the underlying tissues. If the cause of pressure is not removed, it may become painful.
…… and Corns??
If a pressure becomes concentrated in a small area, a ‘hard’ corn may develop. Sometimes the pressure of the corn or callus may produce inflammation which can result in acute pain, swelling and redness.
Sometimes ‘soft’ corns may form between the toes where the skin is moist from sweat or inadequate drying. These ‘soft’ corns appear white and rubbery and are also caused by excessive friction.
Corns and calluses are most often found on the balls of the feet or on the tops of the toes. They can also be found on the heels and even along the side of the toenails.
What causes calluses & corns?
Calluses and corns are generally symptoms of underlying problems and in some cases early warning signals of more complex foot disorders. Because they are by continuous pressure in one particular area they may indicate abnormalities or deformity in the bone structure or in the way a person walks.
Often calluses and corns are caused by ill-fitting footwear.
Who gets calluses and corns?
In fact, calluses and corns affect more people than any other kind of foot problem.
Some people have a natural tendency to develop calluses because of their skin type. For instance, elderly people have less fatty tissue and elasticity in their feet and because of a lack of padding calluses may form on the bottom of the foot. Also people who work in occupations that require them to spend a lot of time on their feet are prone to developing calluses.
How to treat calluses and corns
The most important thing to remember about treating calluses and corns is to never do it yourself without seeing a specialist first. Because calluses are generally symptoms of other problems, it is imperative to have a Podiatrist examine your feet to work out what could be the underlying problem causing the pressure on your feet.
Over the counter remedies such as corn paint or plasters generally only treat the symptoms not the cause. Also they can easily damage the healthy skin surrounding the corn if not used properly. Commercial preparations should only be used following professional advice.
It is important that you never cut corns or calluses yourself. In the warm, moist confines of enclosed shoes, infection can easily develop and small cuts can quickly become serious wounds.
Seeing your Podiatrist
Your Podiatrist will not only recommend ways to relieve pain and get rid of the corn or callus but can also help with isolating the cause and prevent the problem reoccurring.
To treat painful corns, your Podiatrist will gently remove some of the hard skin of the callus so that the centre of the corn can be removed.
To allow the callus to heal and prevent future cases, your Podiatrist may redistribute the pressure on the foot with soft padding and strapping or deflective appliances that fit easily into your shoes.
For older patients suffering with calluses on the soles of the feet, extra shock absorption for the ball of the foot can help to compensate for the loss of natural padding.
Your Podiatrist may also discuss the type of footwear most likely to cause corns and calluses. In some cases, special shoe inserts – orthotics may be prescribed to reduce excessive weight bearing forces on the feet to provide long term relief
The best type of footwear will fit well and allow for any swelling and or deformity within your feet as well as offering good support and protection.
We have a good range of footwear in our clinic from the Dr Comfort range. We are able to order our footwear made to measure for your feet to ensure a correct fit. We are able to get extra width and extra depth when ordering your footwear to stop the formation of corns and calluses.
Healthy feet provide the foundations for a healthy body and an active life!
Dr Peter Shelton BSc Hons. Accredited Podiatrist.