Corns and calluses (porokeratoses) are areas of thickened skin that develop on top of bony prominences to protect that area from irritation or excess rubbing. If the thickening of skin occurs on the bottom of the foot, it’s called a callus. If it occurs on the top of the foot (or toe), it’s called a corn. Corns and calluses are not contagious but can become painful if they get too thick. Sometimes these calluses can cause issues with the softer underlying skin, potentially causing ulcerations or wounds. In people with diabetes or decreased circulation, they can lead to more serious foot problems.
Corns often occur where a toe rubs against the interior of a shoe. Excessive pressure at the balls of the feet—common in women who regularly wear high heels—may cause calluses to develop on the balls of the feet. In addition, sometimes the fat pad on the bottom of our feet becomes thin, making the bones more prominent. This makes your foot susceptible to calluses. In addition, people with certain deformities of the foot, such as hammertoes or bunions, are prone to corns and calluses.
It is best to visit our office as soon as the corns or calluses cause pain and discomfort that inhibit your daily life. People with diabetes, poor circulation, or other serious illnesses are at serious risk of developing more serious issues and should see our office for regular care for these lesions.
Porokeratoses are usually diagnosed through simple clinical examination. Conservative measures are usually reserved for mild to moderate corns and calluses. More significant corns, caused by underlying bony deformities, may need surgical intervention.
Custom-Molded Orthotics—These custom-made shoe inserts are useful in controlling foot function and may reduce symptoms and prevent worsening of the deformity.
Changing Shoe Gear—This helps take pressure off of the bony deformities and lessen the recurrence of the corns and calluses.
Debridement—Larger corns and calluses can be reduced in size by using a blade to carefully shave away the thickened, dead skin—right in the office. The procedure is painless because the skin is already dead. Additional treatments may be needed if the corn or callus recurs.
For more significant corns and calluses, treating the underlying bony deformity by removing the excess bone can significantly help or permanently fix the corns and calluses.