Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are both a thickening of the outer layer of
skin. This thickening is known medically as hyperkeratosis. Corns and calluses
develop as part of the skin's normal defense against prolonged rubbing, pressure
and other forms of local irritation.
A callus can develop anywhere on the body
where there is regular or prolonged pressure of friction, providing a protective
pad against injury.In general, calluses appear on the feet, the part of the body that absorbs
the most friction on a daily basis.
However, manual laborers and athletes
(such as tennis players) often develop calluses on their hands, desk workers get
them from resting on their elbows and guitarists have them on their fingertips.Even pushing a pen may create a "writer's" lump where the pen presses into the
finger. Calluses are not usually painful, although they do blemish the
Calluses are extensive patches of toughened skin that
can occur on any part of the body, especially the feet, hands and knees.
is a Corn?
A thick callus on a toe is known
as a corn, and it has a hard kernel formed in the centre.Because it often
presses on the nerves below, a corn can be painful.You can use
corn-removing plasters, which are available from pharmacies, to remove a corn.
They consist of a foam circle with salicylic acid in the centre, which eats away
the plug of dead skin.Or you can visit a chiropodist who will carefully
pare away the thickened layers of skin with a scalpel.Remember that for a
complete cure you must remove the pressure that caused the corn in the first
place.Make sure that your shoes fit properly.
Corns and calluses can be a long-term problem if you
consistently wear shoes that do not fit properly. Even with good footwear,
you may continue to have painful corns and calluses if there is some
underlying abnormality in your gait or foot structure that causes unusual
stress on parts of your feet when you walk.
On the feet, a small corn or callus may not cause any symptoms.
However, a large, bulky corn or callus can cause foot pain and difficulty
After prolonged irritation, a discolored area (brown, red or
black) may develop under a large corn or callus. This discoloration is caused by
a small amount of bleeding in the space between thick and normal skin. In severe
cases, the thick and normal skin may separate, exposing the area to possible
infection, especially in persons with diabetes.
Your health-care provider probably will ask questions about your
shoes, because shoes with narrow toes are more likely to cause corns. He or she
also will ask about your foot history. Some types of foot problems can alter the
mechanics of the foot, producing abnormal pressure on certain areas and leading
to calluses. Also, any previous surgery or trauma to the feet may affect the
structure and alignment of foot bones, increasing the risk of calluses. A
detailed review of past medical problems, especially diabetes and circulation
problems, are a routine part of the evaluation.
To assess whether your corns and calluses are related to foot
abnormalities, your doctor will inspect your feet for toe deformities,
structural abnormalities of the bones, poor bone alignment and problems related
to an abnormal way of walking (gait). If your doctor finds some abnormality
during this part of the foot exam, he or she may suggest a specific type of
padding or shoe insert that will help to prevent your corns and calluses from
returning or causing as much discomfort.
Wear proper shoes!
Never wear tight-fitting
Do not use "corn plasters."
These contain acids intended to eat
away at the corns. But they also eat into nearby normal flesh.
Do not cut corns and
calluses! This only
makes the situation worse. This especially applies to
diabetics. As soon
as a corn develops, apply oil to soften it.
Soak your feet in very diluted chamomile tea. It will both soothe
and soften the hard skin. (The stain the tea makes on the feet will come off
easily with soap and water.) Or just soak the feet in comfortably hot water
for several minutes. Then apply a hand cream which contains 20% urea. This
will help dissolve the hard skin. Do this daily.
Another formula is to soak the area in a
mixture of oil of
wintergreen, witch hazel, and black walnut tincture,
daily. Use a pumice stone and emery board to trim down the
corn or callus.
Put a few drops of citric acid on the area.
The next morning, use an
emery board or a pumice stone and rub off the dead skin.
Yet another formula is to
crush 5-6 aspirin tablets and mix into a
paste, by adding a half teaspoon each of water and lemon juice. Apply this
to the hard-skin areas. Put the foot in a plastic bag, wrap a warm towel
around it, and sit for 10 minutes. Then unwrap the foot and scrub the area
with a pumice stone. The dead, hardened flesh should come loose and flake off.
A variant method is to soak a
piece of cotton in
fresh lemon juice or pineapple.
Bandage the cotton
over the area.
It will dissolve it. But you must be persistent.
sweet oil rubbed on the area several times a day, plus the use
of the emery board or pumice stone, will skim off the dead flesh.
Try putting some
lamb's wool between the toes,
to separate them (after buying larger shoes).
avoid wearing high-heel shoes.
They ruin the feet, damage the spine, and throw the
pelvic organs out of
Women should not wear pumps;
these are shoes which cause the foot to slide forward, jamming everything into
the front. Instead, wear an oxford-style shoe, with laces. This properly
cradles the foot.
Always buy shoes which breathe;
leather is the best.
An undersized shoe will damage
the toes and cause corns, etc. An oversized shoe will produce friction and
break the skin. But, of the two, oversized shoes are the less harmful.
Some calluses are useful, never
painful, and should not be disturbed.