Foot health - Corns and Callous

Our feet help us to balance, walk, run, and propel us in the equivalent of five times around the earth's surface in an average lifetime.

When we walk or stand, our body weight is carried first on the heel and then on the ball of the foot, where the skin is thicker, The to withstand the pressure.  When this pressure becomes intense, growths, in the form of Corns and Callous, may appear.

Callous

A callous, or callosity, is an extended area of thickened skin on the soles of the feet, and occurs on areas of pressure.  It is the body's reaction to pressure or friction, and can appear anywhere the skin rubs against a bone, a hoe or the ground.

Most callouses are symptoms of an underlying problem like a bone deformity, or a particular style of walking, or inappropriate footwear.  Some people have a natural tendency to form callous because of their skin type.  Elderly people have less fatty tissue in their skin and this can lead to callous forming on the ball of the foot.

What to do

You can control a small amount of hard skin by gently rubbing with a pumice stone, or chiropody sponge every time you are in the bath.  Regularly rubbing cream, prescribed by a Podiatrist/Chiropodist, into the skin will also help.

If the callous is painful and feels as if you are walking on stones, consult a State Registered Chiropodist who will be able to advise the best treatment.  State Registered Chiropodists can remove hard skin, relieve pain and redistribute pressure with soft padding, strapping, or corrective appliances which will fit easily into your shoes.  The skin should then return to its normal state.

The elderly can benefit from padding to the ball of the foot, to compensate for any loss of natural padding.  Emollient creams delay callous building up, and help improve the skin's natural elasticity.  Your State Registered Chiropodist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate skin preparations for your needs.

Corns

There are two main types: hard and soft.

Hard Corns

These are the most common and appear as small, concentrated area of hard skin the size of a small pea, usually within a wider area of thickened sin or callous, and can be symptoms of feet or toes not functioning properly.

How to treat them

Don't cut corns yourself ever, and don't use corn plasters or paint which can burn the healthy tissue around the corns.  Home remedies, like tying lambswool around toes, are dangerous.  Commercially available 'cures' should be used only following professional advice.

Consult a State Registered Chiropodist who will be able to remove corns painlessly, apply padding or insoles to relieve pressure, or fit corrective appliances for long-term relief.

Soft Corns

These develop in a similar way to hard corns.  They are whitish and rubbery in texture, and appear between toes where the skin is moist from sweat, or from inadequate drying.  A State Registered Chiropodist will be able to reduce the bulk of the corn, and apply astringents to cut down on sweat retention between the toes.

If you need any further advice on how to care for corns and callous, or for the address of your local State Registered Chiropodist, contact:

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
53 Welbeck Street
London
W1M 7HE

[This is a copy of a leaflet available for free.  It is available in the foyer of Paul
Trickey's clinic, and from the address above.]