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Spotting Corns on Your Feet: Early Signs

Corn on foot

Some injuries and conditions might look small on the surface but can actually cause a lot of discomfort or pain. One such condition is developing calluses and corns on the feet. These are layers of thick, hardened, dead skin cells that form due to repeated friction and pressure.

The top layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum, thickens and leads to a gradual build-up of scar tissue that results in the formation of corns on the foot.


Some facts about corns on the foot:

  • Corns are different from foot calluses in the sense that they have a hardened core and inflamed skin around the cores. It is well defined, unlike a callus, and is much more painful.
  • Corns develop on bony areas of the foot, where the skin is thin and smooth. Soft corns develop on moist skin between the toes. Hard corns develop on dry, flat areas of the skin.
  • Abnormal friction caused by walking in tight shoes—including shoes that force the toes and feet into abnormal positions—is often the cause of corn on foot.
  • The core of a corn on foot is a seed-shaped structure that is perpendicular to the foot and runs from the surface of the corn to the tissues below. It can cause a sharp pain when pressure is applied.


From the above, it can be deduced that the early symptoms of corn on foot are:

  • Thickened or hardened patches of skin on the feet, toes, or even hands
  • A bump on the skin
  • Flaky, dry skin surrounding the area
  • Pain or tenderness


Here are some preventions, cures, and home remedies for corns on the foot:

  1. Wear shoes that are comfortable and give your feet enough room. Use appropriate footwear for physical activities. For instance, walking long distances wearing hard sandals only invites trouble. Instead, choose shoes that have padding or soft soles.
  2. Use protective coverings such as felt pads, corn pads, toe separators, etc., in areas most prone to friction. For the hands, wear padded gloves to prevent friction —for instance, while driving.
  3. If you already have a corn, you can use pads to protect the affected area. Consult a doctor to get a liquid corn remover, but ensure that the salicylic acid in them does not damage the healthy skin or give rise to more serious issues.
  4. Keep your skin soft by using moisturizing agents on your hands and feet.
  5. Soaking the affected part in warm, soapy water can help soften calluses so that the thickened skin comes off easily and facilitates callus treatment.
  6. To remove such skin, use a pumice stone, washcloth, nail file, etc., but first, check for side effects. Pumice stones are not recommended if you have diabetes.


Medical treatment

If the situation escalates—for instance, if you cut the corn and it bleeds or if the corn discharges fluids or pus—it means that infection is a possibility and immediate medical attention is required. If you also have diabetes, heart disease, or circulatory problems along with the corn, the risk of infection is high. Then, it is time to consult a doctor.

The doctor will take a sample of skin from the affected area to confirm whether it is a corn or a callus. Infected corns are treated using antibiotics while a small incision is required to drain out the pus. Sometimes, foot corn removal is done through surgery, but go through with the process only if the doctor recommends it. A podiatrist or orthopedist may even recommend surgery or orthopedic devices if they believe that the corn on your foot is caused by abnormal foot structure, deformities, or gait.

If you’re in Toronto, Canada, you can find the best services for corn treatment at Don Valley Health and Wellness Centre. Book an appointment here.

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