Corns are a type of painful callous or hardened skin usually seen on the foot. It is made of keratin — a tough protein found in the outermost layer of the skin that develops in response to pressure or friction. While corns may not be pretty to look at, they are usually not a medical issue unless they become infected. Individuals with diabetes should keep an eye on callouses as they are more prone to developing infections.
Causes and Symptoms of Corns
Hard corns occur on dry, flat surfaces of the skin, while soft corns (frequently found between adjacent toes) stay moist, keep the surrounding skin soft and have a hard, fibrous center.
Corns are caused by constant pressure on a bony area of the foot and can happen because of:
Shoes that are too tight or have uneven soles are the most common cause of corns.
A prominent bone structure can cause the bones to rub against the shoes or another toe, to create a callous.
Improperly healed fractures:
A broken bone that sets improperly can cause the foot to rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of a corn.
The main signs of corns include:
- A lump of hard skin over a bony area on your foot
- Pain while walking
Treatments and Natural Remedies for Corns
In most cases, once the cause of irritation is removed, corns may disappear on their own. You could have them removed for cosmetic reasons or if it is painful.
Corns can be treated with over-the-counter pharmaceutical products or natural remedies. Look for creams, lotions or pads with salicylic acid, which is the same ingredient used in over-the-counter wart-removal products. Salicylic acid is keratolytic, meaning it can dissolve the keratin that makes up the corn. It is not recommended for those with diabetes.
Some home remedies for corns include:
Soaking the foot:
Try soaking the affected foot in warm water for about 20-25 minutes. Gently rub off the hardened skin with a pumice stone and apply baby oil for softness.
Garlic may also help remove keratin when you apply a coarsely ground mixture of garlic and salt to the corn. Apply the same mixture to a band-aid and apply to the corn for at least three days.
Just before you go to bed, boil a cup of strong chamomile tea and dab it on your feet using a towel. Cover your feet with a plastic bag or wrap and leave it overnight. The tea will help soften hard surfaces and may make it easier to rub off the dry skin with a pumice stone.
Doctors may also prescribe antibiotics in case there is an infection.
Corns are easier to prevent than to treat and you could prevent an onset with these tips:
Avoid friction, especially on your feet, to prevent a callus.
Change your footwear:
High-heeled shoes or slippers can cause corns because they tend to squish the toes or rub against the feet. You may also avoid shoes that are the wrong size and too small.
Pad the potentially affected area:
Use foam or moleskin pads to cover the corns. These may help redistribute the pressure around the corn instead of right on it. Cushioned insoles may also be useful.
Use antifungal or antibacterial powder:
Applying an antifungal or antibacterial powder to a clean foot may prevent the corn from becoming infected.
Even though corns can be ugly and painful, they are mostly harmless and easily treatable and preventable. With the right sized shoes and clean, dry feet you could keep corns and callouses at bay.
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