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Corns and Calluses
What are corns (clavus)?
Corn (medical name: clavus) is localized conical thickening of the skin at the area of pressure and/or friction, most commonly on the sole and sides of the toes. It is usually painful if you press on it, so walking can be a challenge.
What causes corns?
Friction and pressure on the skin cause corns. This could be due to some deformity of the foot bones that press the skin from inside out, causing reactive thickening of the skin in the form of corn (clavus), and/or ill-fitting shoes that press the skin from outside in.
Should I see my health care provider for corn (clavus)?
It is always wise to see your health care provider for an initial exam and for a correct diagnosis. In addition you may need some tests such as x-rays of your foot to check for underlying bone deformity. Sometimes referral to a specialist such as a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) (i.e. foot doctor), a specialist for orthopedics, or a dermatologist may be needed.
What is the treatment for corns?
The best would be to treat the cause of the corn such as underlying bone deformity, or replace shoes with better-fitting ones. If you do not have diabetes, you can try corn shavers and corn pads, which you can find in the foot sections of pharmacies and at some grocery stores. But if that does not help, or if you have diabetes you should see your health care provider.
What is a callus?
Callus is localized thickening of the skin at the area of pressure or friction. It is not painful when touched compared to corns. It is usually found on hands and feet over bony prominences of joints. It can also be found on palms in manual workers and weight-lifters (body builders). The most common site for callus is over the last joint of the third finger in writers from holding a pen or pencil. Additional names for calluses are jogger’s toes, tennis toe, surfer’s nodules, knuckle pads etc. depending on the site and the cause of the callus.
What causes calluses?
Friction and pressure on the skin cause calluses just like they cause corns, but calluses are not painful when touched compared to corns.
Should I see my health care provider for calluses?
It is always wise to see your health care provider for an initial exam and for a correct diagnosis.
What is the treatment for calluses?
The best would be to treat the cause of the callus such as removal of any pressure or friction at the site of callus. Using over the counter wart remover containing salicylic acid, 12% ammonium lactate lotion (brand names: AmLactin and Lac-Hydrin), or creams containing 20% urea (brand name: Carmol) may help thin the callus. Wearing protective padding or gloves may help as well.