Painful Feet!? Could it be Corns and Callus…?


A common cause of painful feet are often- Corns and Callus

Corns and callus are areas of thickened and usually hard skin that develops in high pressure areas. They are one of the most commonly dealt with issues by a podiatrist and can present basically anywhere on the foot. Almost always however, they develop in high pressure areas. We weren’t born with shoes on for protection, so building up hard skin in high pressure areas is the bodies way of protecting itself. Not in all cases but definitely in most, corns and callus (the build up of hard skin) cause pain and irritation.

How do they come about and what causes increases in pressure?

  • Inappropriate footwear- Poor design, poor fitting (to big or to small)
  • Deformities of the foot- Bunions, clawed or hammered toes
  • Lumps and bumps- Bony areas of the foot like knuckles and bunions
  • Reduced fat pads- The foot needs cushioning, when the fat pads in the foot thin down they can create bony prominence’s
  • Structural deficits of the foot- This relates to the biomechanics of the foot, the foot needs to be functioning appropriately to maintain the appropriate shape while walking
  • Abnormal walking patterns- Putting pressure in the wrong areas of the foot when pushing off from the toes

What is the difference between corns and callus?

A corn, as the name suggests is a build up of hard skin, similar in shape to a piece of corn. They can often feel as though you have a stone in your shoe, however it isn’t in your shoe, it is in your foot! Whereas, callus is a lot more superficial and usually more widely spread over the high pressure area. Callus does not hurt in the same way a corn does but it can cause blistering and in severe cases ulceration where the hard skin meets the softer skin underneath. This can be especially dangerous for people with a reduced blood flow in their feet such as those in the later stages of poorly controlled diabetes and neuropathy.

Now due to the very nature of how corns and callus develop, once there they do not usually go away without being treated. As previously mentioned, corns and callus develop in high pressure areas. Once upon a time, when we weren’t wearing shoes that wasn’t such a bad thing as they offered protection from external terrain. However, these days we aren’t unshod nearly as often. With shoes being a huge contributor to increased pressure, imagine having a space invading mass develop in an area of high pressure… It only increases the pressure in that area! In some instances it is the very presence of the corns and callus that is causing the increases in pressure! ***giant gasp!***

How to prevent corns and callus?

This is going to sound pretty straight forward and that is because it is. To prevent corns and callus we need to remove the excessive pressure.

If we were to give advice for for prevention, remove pressure by having appropriate fitting footwear for your foot specifically. If you suffer from deformities of the foot/toes make sure that your footwear accommodates such deformities. That does not mean get “big” shoes. Having shoes that have too much space is also something that will cause callus and corns as your foot can move too much within the shoe, leading to increased friction and pressure.

If you suffering biomechanical abnormalities leading to callus and corns, this can be dealt with by correcting the function of the foot and redistributing the pressure away from troublesome areas. This is often indicated by a build up underneath the second toe knuckle (by the “ball” of the foot), by pinch callus on the inside edge of the big toe and big toe knuckle, and in more severe cases on the top of the knuckles of the smaller toes.

Once the corns and callus are present, our podiatrists at Bondi Junction or Sydney CBD clinic can help removing it.

It is easy for a podiatrist to remove corns and callus, we do it every day. However, you should never try to do it yourself, corns and callus come in all shapes, sizes and depths. Trying to remove yourself can result in harm. Also always use caution when trying different remedies found in your local chemist. There are other little lumps and bumps on the foot that can look similar to corns such as warts. Using the wrong applications to self treat can result in harm.

What can a Podiatrist do to help?

As you can see, there are many things that can cause cause corns and callus. Prevention and management is the key. A Podiatrist can assess what your most appropriate steps forward are. Corns and callus are the first signs that there is something else that needs to be assessed and addressed. This is especially important for patients with diabetes and/or poor circulation!

If you suffer from corns and callus and need to have it tented to CLICK HERE to book an appointment with one of our Bondi Junction or Sydney CBD Podiatrists.


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