Preventing Callus and Corn formation
Callus and corns are extremely common on our feet. A thin layer of flexible callus is a healthy protective barrier of the skin. Corns however do not have any benefit and can be immensely painful. Here is information and advice on these two common complaints.
Callus is thickened, hard skin developed from friction. Common areas to find these on the feet are:
- Lateral (outside) of the 5th toes
- Tips of the toes
- Medial (towards midline of the body) of the big toe joints
- Under the metatarsophalangeal joints (balls of the feet)
The above areas of the foot tend to experience the most pressure and friction. Points 1 & 2 are signs that your footwear should be wider and longer. If your shoes are narrow, they will create friction on the sides of the 5th toes. If your toes butt up against the end of your shoe, you can develop callus on the apices of the toes.
Point 3 is mechanically induced, often seen in runners or people who may require orthotics (insoles) to improve foot function.
The plantar metatarsophalangeal joints (point 4) take a high amount of pressure and friction, as we use this area to ‘push off’ when walking or running. Sports that involve pivoting and change of direction such as netball, basketball and tennis tend to exacerbate this.
Heels (point 5) are involved when we make contact with the ground, and take the initial shock absorption. Heel contact generally moves from the lateral (outside) towards the medial (inside) during gait, and can develop callus around the edges.
A thin layer of flexible callus is usually healthy but you should file down or have a podiatrist shave thick and solid callus down for you. Consider orthotics to help reduce high friction areas, and wear good fitted shoes. A podiatrist can help you with this.
Corns are developed from pressure. High pressure areas of the foot can compact skin cells into one small location and develop into an inverted cone like shape. These become gradually larger until you feel pain. They can be removed painlessly by a podiatrist using a scalpel, but they will redevelop if high pressure to the area continues. Areas that are commonly affected include:
- Sides of 5th toes
- Between toes
- Top of toes (interphalangeal joints)
- Under the metatarsophalangeal joints
Points 1 and 2 indicate your shoes are too tight and are squeezing your toes together. Point 3 indicates your toes are being squashed at the end of the shoe, causing the toes to claw. The clawing pushes the interphalangeal joints (IPJs) upwards and they rub on the top of the shoe. This can cause both callus and corn formation.
The 4th point is very common and is naturally a high pressure area when walking. Tight calf muscles will increase forefoot pressure so stretching these muscles is important. A high arched foot tends to have high pressure at the heel and forefoot as less surface area contacts the ground (pressure = force/area). You may benefit from using an orthotic to increase surface area contact, with or without modification to offload a particular area.
Corn formation is usually a result of poor footwear. Try to alter your footwear or use a comfortable shoe for commuting, and wearing dress shoes for minimum periods. For recurring corns, see a podiatrist and you may benefit from a pair of orthotics (insoles).
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss callus and corn treatment or prevention.
T. – 0207 412 8882
E. – firstname.lastname@example.org
A. – 27 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QP
Steven Thomas, Senior Podiatrist @ Podogo