Corns and calluses are thickened pads of skin which form under repetitive pressure or friction. They are usually seen on the hands and feet. They do not usually require treatment unless they're painful, inconvenient, or unsightly. However, patients with poor blood circulation in their feet (such as diabetics) may risk more serious complications from corns and calluses.
Both corns and calluses usually appear as rough, thick skin that may be tender or painful beneath. They may also be dry and flaky, or waxy. Corns, which form most often on the feet, are smaller to calluses and appear as hard, raised bumps surrounded by irritated skin. Corns are often painful under pressure, while calluses rarely cause pain.
There are a variety of factors that increase the risk of developing corns and calluses, but they all involve repetitive stress on the skin. Wearing poorly fitting shoes or socks, or no socks at all, increases the chance of corns and calluses on the feet. Deformities of the feet such as bunions or hammertoes can also produce excessive friction on particular parts of the feet, leading to corns or calluses.
Using hand tools, musical instruments, or writing implements regularly, especially without gloves, can produce calluses on the hands and fingers.
There are various over-the-counter products to treat corns and calluses. However, the easiest way to get rid of them is to get rid of the friction and pressure that caused them. Wear shoes and socks that fit properly, use gloves when working with tools, and use moleskin pads if necessary to help protect your feet. In the case of foot or gait deformities, orthopedic inserts may be necessary.
Moisturizer and the use of a pumice stone after bathing or showering can help reduce a callus. If a callus has grown particularly thick, a doctor can trim it down to more manageable size.
Patients with fragile skin, diabetes, or other conditions that affect blood flow to the feet should let their doctor know if they develop corns or calluses. Any damage to the skin of their feet can quickly become an ulcer or open sore, risking serious infection. These patients should not try to treat corns and calluses themselves. It should be left to the doctor.
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