STOP! It’s corn time!
One of the painful conditions we see a lot of in the clinic at the end of winter is corns on the toes or, the worst, corns between the toes.
These little creatures can get so painful it makes it almost impossible to wear closed-toe shoes. If left without treatment they can ulcerate and take longer to heal.
What are corns?
Corns are inverted cones of hard skin that usually form over areas of pressure, friction and tension on the skin. The difference between calluses and corns is that a corn is a small plug of hard skin whereas a callus is a flat, sometimes very large patch. Often, corns form within a patch of callus. They do not contain “roots”, they are more like a small stone imbedded in the skin and can feel like it sometimes too!
The most common forms we see in winter are those on the tops of toes and between the toes – any guesses as to why we find them there?
Where do they come from?
The change from open shoes to closed-toed footwear during the colder months is the main cause of these types of corns.
Often we have people explaining that they’ve had the shoes for years and they’ve never had corns from them before however, there is an explanation for this:
Feet change as we age and sometimes they change just enough between the seasons to render your comfortable winter boots unbearable
At the beginning of the season, it can be that your feet just aren’t used to wearing closed in shoes
Perhaps those old favourites are actually too old – worn shoes won’t be supporting your feet as well which allows extra foot movement and this leads to toe rubbing
How do you treat it?
Please don’t be tempted to use medicated corn plasters!
We understand when a corn is so sore you just want to do something to take the pressure off but corn plasters contain acid; this may soften your skin but certainly wont get rid of the corn.
And for those who are at risk – the elderly and diabetics for example – the acid can burn the delicate skin completely away leaving a very sore wound, which gets infected easily and then you have a real mess on your hands!
Only a podiatrist is trained to remove corns painlessly and safely. If you need to do something before you can get in to see your podiatrist, some padding with a hole placed over the corn can help reduce direct pressure.
Given that corns are due to pressure and friction, they will come back unless you remove the cause. In-shoe padding and better footwear choices help most of the time however some really crooked and lumpy toes require surgery before they improve.