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Corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas of the skin that develop naturally as a protective layer for the skin underneath them from injury, pressure or rubbing.
They most often develop on the feet and toes or hands and fingers.
And although corns and calluses are not dangerous, they can be unsightly and cause irritation.
People sometimes mistakenly use the terms corns and calluses interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Calluses are thickenings of the outermost layer of the skin due to friction, pressure or irritation. They often develop on the feet, but can also occur on the hands, elbows or knees.
They are yellowish-pale in color and are often bigger and wider than corns with poorly defined edges. Calluses are rarely painful.
Corns typically develop due to bone pressure against the skin, namely the top and sides of the toes and balls of the feet. They can be painful.
They are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by dead skin with a central core.
The following signs and symptoms might indicate a corn or a callus:
A thick, rough area of skin
A hardened and raised bump
Skin that is dry and flaky or waxy
Tenderness or pain under your skin
Being exposed to repetitive friction or pressure are linked to a higher incidence of corns and calluses. These sources include:
Wearing shoes that are too tight, too loose or too high-heeled.
Wearing shoes or sandals without socks.
Socks that do not fit well could also be a problem.
Walking barefoot regularly, as the skin will thicken to protect itself
Repeated pressure from playing instruments, using hand tools, or even writing
Frequently cycling without wearing gloves
Repeated kneeling or resting elbows on a table
There are several risk factors that might increase the likelihood to develop corns and calluses, such as bunions, hammertoe, and other foot deformities.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. A hammertoe, on the other hand, is a deformity in which your toes curls up like a claw.
The following tips are recommended by dermatologist to treat corn or callus:
Soak the corn or callus in warm water for five to 10 minutes.
Using a pumice stone that was dipped in warm water, file the corn or callus gently in a circular motion.
To avoid bleeding and infection, be careful not to take off too much skin.
Apply moisturizing lotion or cream, which has salicylic acid, ammonium lactate or urea to soften hard corns and calluses.
Prevent a corn from making contact with your shoe, by surrounding the corn with a donut-shaped adhesive pads
Most importantly, wear shoes that are the right size and shape of your foot.
Keep your toenails trimmed.
Most corns and calluses gradually disappear when the friction or pressure stops. However, in cases where your corn becomes very inflamed or painful, or if you have an underlying condition like diabetes, you should see a dermatologist or podiatrist.
Mayoclinic.org. (2018). Corns and calluses - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/corns-and-calluses/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355951.
William Morrison, M. (2017). Corns and calluses: What's the difference and how can I treat them?. [online] Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172459.php.
Aad.org. (2019). How to treat corns and calluses | American Academy of Dermatology. [online] Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/corns-and-calluses.
Lisa Bernstein (2017). Treating Corns and Calluses. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-corns-calluses-treatment.
Curtin, M. (2016). Corns, Calluses and Warts……What’s the difference? | cwfootandankle. [online] cwfootandankle. Available at: https://www.cwfootandankle.com.au/single-post/2016/08/04/Corns-Calluses-and-Warts%E2%80%A6%E2%80%A6What%E2%80%99s-the-difference.
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