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Corn or Callus?

remove corns and callusesOuch! You have a tender spot on your foot. Is it because your favorite pair of shoes have been rubbing your foot? Maybe you’ve been standing on those beautiful high heels for too long? And boy does it hurt when you press on it. It feels kind of hard. Is it a corn or a callus? You probably don’t know how to tell the difference. One of the most common foot problems and most simple for a podiatrist to treat is the presence of corns and calluses. American Foot and Leg Specialists, serving the South Atlanta Metro area including Fulton County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Henry County, and Clayton County, has the expertise to discern the cause of your ouch spot and treat it accordingly.

How Do You Know if You Have a Corn or Callus?

The term corn is often mistakenly used interchangeably with the term callus. Essentially, they are both caused by friction with a shoe or sock, particularly if you have irregularly shaped toes or hammer toes. Visually a corn is typically smaller, rounder and deeper, whereas a callus appears to cover a broader area. The thickening of the skin common to both corns and calluses is called hyperkeratosis. Both corns and calluses usually cause pain, however, there are a few other basic differences between calluses and corns:

Calluses are flat areas of hard, thickened skin with a waxy appearance caused by repeated pressure or rubbing of your foot against your shoe, with or without a sock. Why does a callus form? Your body develops a callus by turning the outer surface hard and tough to protect the inner layers of your skin from exposure to heat, cold, or penetration. The most common location for a callus to form is on locations that bear weight, usually on the soles or bottom of heels of the feet. They are also prone to appear on the tops and sides of the feet and heels when shoes fit improperly and the area is constantly exposed to pressure and rubbing. For example, a poor fitting shoe will cause calluses on the heel, the ball of the foot, the side of the 5th toe, or, if there is a bunion bump, on the 1st toe.

Corns are rounded bumps that often appear dry, waxy, or discolored. They are skin growths that most often develop on areas of the foot that do not bear weight as a reaction to consistent friction or pressure when a bony prominence protrudes outward against the ground or against an ill-fitting shoe. A callus may feel like a little pebble is in your shoe, but you can’t take it out. They are most frequently located on top of the toes at the knuckles, or between the toes. They can also form on the bottom or the sides of the foot, similar to calluses. For example, that same poor fitting shoe may cause a corn on the top of the foot or it may cause toes to rub or get pressed together resulting in a corn on the sides of the toes. Unlike calluses, the most distinctive difference is that corns have a core which points inward, surrounded by red, inflammed skin. When the core presses on nerves, intense pain ensues. The most painful type of corn occurs between the 4th and 5th toes, called a Heloma Molle.

When a Corn Mimics Plantar Warts

Although it may be fairly obvious to determine if you have a corn or callus, the appearance of a corn can sometimes mimic the appearance of a plantar wart. Here’s how our podiatrists rule out a plantar wart from a corn by looking at differences in location, appearance and number.

  • Planter warts mainly occur on the heel and the ball of the foot or the underside of the big toe. Corns usually occur between and on top of the toes, although sometimes also are found on the ball of the foot or the heel.
  • Warts have a dry, crusty surface with tiny black dots deep inside. Corns have a thick, callused surface with no black dots.
  • Corns are always single whereas warts often develop in clusters.
  • Our podiatrist will push down on the spot – if it is painful – it’s a corn.

How Do American Foot and Leg Specialists Treat Corns and Calluses?

Both corns and calluses have the potential to be extremely painful depending on the location and how long the condition has remained untreated. Once our podiatrists have distinguished if you have a corn or a callus, treating them is relatively simple. We will debride the corn or callus. This painless process involves scraping and cutting away hardened skin. This process is best conducted by one of our experienced podiatrists at American Foot and Leg Specialists and not as an at-home remedy. This will prevent a number of complications that could result from removing too much skin or cutting too deeply.

Corns and calluses can reappear over time if pressure and friction continue, so prevention is key in treating and maintaining corn and callus free feet. Most importantly, comfortable, well-made and well-fitting shoes reduce the potential for friction, rubbing and pressure points. As well, we may recommend using corn or callus cushions and/or protectors, skin softening foot soaks, or toe separators. We carry several lines of diabetic and comfort shoes and recommended foot care products at our Foot Care Centers located in each of our 4 locations in Stockbridge, Atlanta, Fayetteville and Locust Grove.