What are Corns and Calluses?
Corns and calluses are likely the most common foot problems that affect millions of people in the U.S. These annoying, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, areas of the foot and toes are described as a thickening of skin that reside under specific points of pressure on the foot (i.e. the small toe, the ball of the foot, etc.). The medical term for a corn is known as hyperkeratosis. While corns and calluses are often grouped together in terms of cause, symptoms and treatment, they are actually very different:
- A corn is known as a heloma. It presents itself as a dry, translucent bump that feels hard and tender. Corns can be hard (haeloma durum) or soft (heloma molles). Hard corns often form due to ill-fitting shoes, while soft corns tend to occur on the inside of toes and form when the ends of a toe are too wide and create friction with the toe next to it.
- A callus usually presents itself more as a flattened area of hard, thick skin and is diffused and develop over a particular area of the foot.
Corns and calluses develop as a natural mechanism for the foot to protect itself. Feet withstand a considerable amount of stress with daily ambulation. High heels, tight shoes, and exposure to the elements contribute to the formation of these skin problems.
What are symptoms of a corn or callus?
Individuals that have a corn or callus will have a toe that has a thick, rough patch of skin. Corns will present themselves as a firm bump that is tender and painful. Both will have a patchy look that is dry and waxy in appearance.
How are corns and calluses diagnosed?
Corns and calluses can be easy to diagnose with the naked eye. It is important to obtain x-rays to determine if the skin condition is due to an underlying boney abnormality.