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Corns & Calluses

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Definition

Corns and calluses are thickened layers of skin that are caused by repeated pressure or friction. The thickening of the skin is a mechanism which is designed to provide protection. Corns generally occur on the toes and balls of the feet. Calluses can develop on hands, feet or areas where there is repeated friction.

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Causes

  • Shoes that are too tight or wearing high heeled shoes that compress the areas of your feet especially your toes.
  • Rubbing of feet against a poorly placed seam or stitch inside the shoe.
  • Friction to the feet due to not wearing shoes or sandals.
  • Calluses can result on the hands due to repeated pressure of using tools on the job, around the house or in the garden.

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Symptoms

  • Thickened layer of skin
  • Pain or tenderness under the skin
  • Yellowish dead skin that may slough off if rubbed when wet.

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Implications

Corns and calluses are not serious but they can be quite painful and annoying. However, if corns and calluses are not cared for appropriately, they may get infected and give off fluid or pus. People with diabetes are more prone to foot problems that may get infected and take longer to heal. Prompt and appropriate medical attention is required in such cases.

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What You Can Do

  • Proper wound care can be done by washing the areas with corn or calluses either with warm water or saline solution. Prophylactic use of topical antibiotics is recommended to prevent infection, especially in those individuals with diabetes, immuno-compromised individuals and those who wear closed toe foot wear for prolonged periods of time especially in warm and humid weather.

  • Wear properly fitting and comfortable foot wear. Use loose fitting, cushioned shoes until the corn or callus disappears.

  • Apply medicated corn pads and liquid corn removers that are available over-the-counter. Medicated corn pads protect areas where corns and calluses develop. These corn pads and liquid corn removers contain salicylic acid, which can irritate skin and cause infection, especially in people with diabetes and poor circulation.

  • Minimize friction to exposed areas during work and heavy activities

  • During or after taking a shower or a bath, rub corns or calluses with a pumice stone or washcloth to help remove the topmost layer of toughened skin. Never cut or shave corns or calluses, because you could introduce an infection. Unhealthy tissue or thickened skin should be removed by your physician or preferably by a podiatrist.

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Corns & Calluses