If you are experiencing a small but painful lump of hard skin on your foot, you are most likely suffering the effect of a corn. These are little areas of densely compacted skin that occur in response to prolonged direct pressure. Whilst it is a natural protective response by the body to thicken the skin at pressure sites, these trifling spots of hard skin can become harmful. This occurs when the body’s response is overzealous and the ensuring corn creates its own pressure on the area that it was designed to protect.
As mentioned, corns typically occur as a result of constant compression of a small area of skin. This is different to callus, in
which the hard skin is more diffuse and caused by a shearing force. We tend to see corns more in between or on top of toes that are being squashed by poor fitting footwear. However, footwear isn’t always to blame. Corns also frequently appear on the tips of the toes or under protruding knuckles across the ball of the foot. This can be seen in association with toes that are clawed or deformed in some way.
People seek treatment for corns because they can be very painful when underlying nerves are irritated by their presence. Left untreated, corns can cause significant damage to the deeper skin. Complications such as sores and permanent scarring can develop. This is common in people who delay treatment. Others may not recognise the damage the corn is doing because they can’t feel it. Loss of foot sensation, in conditions such as diabetes, place people with corns at higher risk of ulceration and amputation.
Corns are treated by removing them with a sterile blade. A podiatrist is a health professional highly trained in doing this in an effective, safe and painless manner. A podiatrist will also determine what factors are contributing to the corn’s formation and provide solutions to help reduce their recurrence.