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A corn is a type of painful callus on your foot. A callus, or hyperkeratosis, is an area of hardened skin. It is made of keratin – a tough protein found in the outermost layer of your skin that develops in response to pressure or friction.
Corns might look slightly ugly, but they are not usually a medical problem, unless they ulcerate, which can cause them to become infected. If you have diabetes, you should see a general practitioner about them because you’re more prone to developing infections.
Corns are basically caused by constant pressure on a bony area of your foot. This can happen for a number of different reasons:
- Poorly fitting footwear: Shoes that are too small or have uneven soles are the most common cause of corns.
- Prominent bones:If you have prominent bones these can press against your shoes or press against another toe.
- Poorly healed fractures:If you have a broken bone that has been set out of place, it can cause your foot to rub against your shoe.
Signs and symptoms
The main symptoms of corns include:
- A lump of hard skin over a bony area on your foot.
- Pain when you walk, sometimes stopping you from doing certain activities.
Hard corns occur on dry, flat surfaces of skin. Soft corns (frequently found between adjacent toes) stay moist, keeping the surrounding skin soft, and have a hard, fibrous center.
In most cases calluses and corns may go away by themselves, once the cause of the irritation is removed. However you may want to remove a corn if you find it ugly or painful.
Corns and calluses can be treated with over-the-counter pharmaceutical products or natural remedies. If you want to buy a product, look for creams, lotions or pads where the active ingredient is salicylic acid, the same ingredient used in over-the-counter wart-removal products. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic, which means it dissolves the protein keratin. It is not recommended for diabetics.
- Foot Soak: Try soaking your feet in warm water for 20-25 minutes. Then apply baby oil to the corns. With the use of a pumice, gently rub off the hardened skin.
- Garlic: Garlic can also be used to remove the keratin. Cut a clove of garlic into pieces and mash together with salt. Then apply the mixture to a band-aid and keep it this way for three days. Once removed, the dry skin should come off too.
- Chamomile tea: Just before you go to bed, boil a cup of strong chamomile tea and dab it on your feet using a towel. Then enclose your feet in a plastic bag or wrap and add a sock to hold everything in place. Leave overnight. The tea will help in softening hard surfaces of your corns and it will be easy to rub off the dry skin with a pumice.
Your health-care practitioner may also prescribe antibiotics for any corns or calluses that have become infected.
It is said “prevention is better than cure” and corns are easier to prevent than to treat.
- Minimize rubbing: Avoid friction – especially on your hands and feet to prevent a callus. Avoid shoes that are too tight or gloves that rub your hands uncomfortably. Rings that are too tight can also form a callus.
- Change your footwear: High heeled shoes or slip-ons can cause corns because they either squish your toes or rub against your feet.
- Pad the potentially affected area: You can get many sorts of padding at the drugstore:Cushions to put between the toes;Foam or moleskin pads to put over the places where corns form;Foam pads with holes in the center (like donuts or bagels), which redistribute pressure around the corn instead of right over it; And cushioned insoles to pad your feet and alleviate mechanical pressure.
- Apply an antifungal or antibacterial powder: If you already have a corn, you should apply an antifungal or antibacterial powder after washing your foot to help prevent it becoming infected.
Corns can be ugly, painful or even become infected. Luckily, they are easily treatable and preventable. While there are many pharmacological cures on the market, natural remedies are available too that may be cheaper and just as effective.
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