What are corns and calluses?
Essentially, a corn and a callus are the same tissue; it just happens to differ based on where they’re located. A callus typically tends to describe this tissue when it’s on the bottom of the foot or along the sides of the foot. A corn describes this type of tissue when it’s located on the toes, either on top or in between the toes or across the end or the bottom of the toes, which is less common. Essentially, corns and calluses are tissue known as hyperkeratosis.
What causes corns and calluses?
A hyperkeratosis is simply a thick ending of the outer layer of the skin that occurs in response to abnormal pressure. This abnormal pressure can occur one of two different ways, and oftentimes it’s a combination of these two ways. The first is, when there is excessive pressure on the skin itself, simply from a tightly-fitting shoe or just an abnormal pressure because of one’s foot structure on the bottom of the foot. Also, along the sides of the foot, when people have bunions or tailor’s bunions, that can also create an abnormal pressure point along the sides as well. The other components of this is internal pressure. Internal pressure can come from an abnormal position of the bone, either a bone that’s too big and sticking out, or bone deformity such as seen in hammer toes, where the toes actually curl up and make the actual bones more prominent towards the tops of the toes.
Usually corns and calluses develop as a result of the combination of both of these, where there’s too much external pressure either from the shoe or the ground below or too much internal pressure because of bone deformity underneath. Corns and calluses can become very painful just because as that tissue thickens it creates more pressure to the skin underneath, which will irritate the skin nerves located directly underneath that area. Unfortunately, corns and calluses for diabetics and people with poor sensation can be particularly dangerous.
How to treat corns and calluses
The normal response to a painful corn and callus is to simply wear a different shoe that doesn’t cause pain against it, to put padding on it, or to shift your weight slightly so that you don’t feel the pain of walking on one of these things.When you have poor sensation, such as people who are diabetic, or people who have nerve disease, that pain isn’t present, so people continuously walk on these corns and calluses, and they continuously get thicker and thicker and thicker. Eventually what happens is that the skin underneath the corn or callus starts to die, and a crater is formed essentially where the skin dies, and a wound or an ulcer forms. These wounds and ulcers are hard to see underneath the callus unless you know what you’re looking for. Potentially, these can worsen to the point where that wound can go all the way down to the bone and pose a particular danger of infection and further problems in diabetics and people with poor sensation.