Corns like calluses develop from an accumulation of dead skin cells on the foot, forming thick, hardened areas. They contain a cone-shaped core with a point that can press on a nerve below, causing pain. Corns are a very common ailment that usually form on the tops, sides and tips of the toes. Corns can become inflamed due to constant friction and pressure from footwear. Corns that form between the toes are sometimes referred to as soft corns.
Some of the common causes of corn development are tight fitting footwear, high heeled footwear, tight fitting stockings and socks, deformed toes, the foot sliding forward in a shoe that fits too loosely, excessive sheer stress and/ or pressure at the affected area. Podiatrists usually classify corns into three types:
1. Soft corns (medical term, heloma molle) – more common between toes.
2. Hard corns (heloma durum) – more common on weight bearing areas in the sole of the foot.
3. Seed corns (heloma miliare) – common on weight and non- weight bearing areas in the sole of the foot.
Corns can be vascularised or neurovascular in nature, the former bleed quickly since they are supplied by capillaries while the latter also contain nerves making them very painful for patients. Complications that can arise from corns include bursitis and the development of an ulcer.
Treatment and Prevention
There are very simple ways to prevent and treat the corns. First of all, avoid the use of corn removing solutions and medicated pads, these may cause tissue loss and ulceration to high acid concentrations, aggravating the problem. Diabetics and other high risk patients (e.g. those with poor circulation) should never use any chemical agents to remove corns.
A visit to a Podiatrist will help relieve the pain immediately through the process of debridement and enucleation (removal of the central core of the corn) which in most of the cases is painless. Offloading padding and other medications may be advised depending on the case. Preventive measures will also be advised accordingly.
You should wear properly fitted footwear with extra room in the toe box (toe area). Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose. Use an orthotic or insole as prescribed by your Podiatrist in order to offload the area preventing recurrence of corns by providing balanced foot function, equal distribution of foot pressure whilst it provides cushioning and shock absorption.