Corns: the Causes and Treatments
When a bony prominence of the foot experiences continued pressure or friction from an opposing surface the tissues can become thickened and more tough resulting in a corn developing. They vary is size, shape and severity and tend to be more common in women, especially those who constantly wear tight or narrow shoes.
What Causes A Corn?The most common cause of a corn developing is due to ill-fitting footwear, especially tight or narrow fitting shoes that cause the toes to become cramped into a small space where pressure builds up and friction between the shoe and the tissues of the foot occurs.Sometimes a deformity of the foot may be to blame, especially those with hammer toes or bunions as these condition force prominences to develop and increase the risk of some areas of tissue to feel pressure and rub against the shoe, when it normally wouldn’t.
Signs And SymptomsMost often seen on the top of the toes, corns can begin as areas of hard skin that become sore and red as the pressure on them continues. As they grow, the tissue can become discoloured taking on a greyish, brown or yellowing appearance. They usually appear as a circular area and sometimes a ‘root’ will be apparent towards the centre of the corn.They do often occur in other areas of the foot such as in between the toes or more rarely on the sole of the foot and can often involve nerve tissues that results in pain and discomfort.
Treatment OptionsThe easiest way to reduce pain caused by corns is to change footwear and wear shoes that are wide enough to fit the foot comfortably. Frequent removal of footwear to rest the foot and allow it to relax and breathe will also help to reduce discomfort levels.
Most people will benefit from using corn pads applied directly onto the affected area. These can be brought from many shops or chemists and aim to cushion the area prevent friction from occurring and reduce pressure. If you have any underlying medical illnesses such as diabetes or problems with circulation, always discuss your options with your GP or Practice Nurse as many corn plasters and pads are not recommend for use if these conditions are present.Use a pumice stone or other hard skin relieving device or lotion to try and soften the area and reduce the likelihood of it developing further. Treat any areas of hard skin appropriately before a corn can grow.
Visit a chiropodist who will be able to treat and advise on the cause of the corn and remove it gently be a series of treatments.
Never try to cut the corn away or ‘dig’ the root out yourself as this can be very dangerous leading to infections, bleeding and pain.
If hammer toes, bunions or another condition is to blame for the corns, see your GP who may recommend referral to a specialist to discuss options regarding the treatment of other conditions.
Corns are very common occurrences, but can cause many people a lot of discomfort, They are easily avoided if the correct footwear is chosen and if areas of hard skin are treated before they can develop into corns.