Painful areas on the feet can be a great source of misery, making walking uncomfortable. Sufferers are often reluctant to take regular exercise.
Among the most common causes of sore feet are calluses and corns. These are raised areas of local thickening of the surface layer of the skin. This layer is known as the keratin layer. When it becomes thickened the condition is known as hyperkeratosis.
Calluses and corns are usually found in places where there is friction or pressure. They are usually the result of badly fitting shoes, but can also occur if your feet are abnormally shaped. They are sometimes found on other parts of the body where friction occurs, for example, on the fingers of guitar players.
Calluses are bigger than corns and are usually found on the bottom (sole) of the foot, either around the heel or around the front of the foot at the base of the first and fourth toes — places where pressure occurs.
Corns are smaller and often have a central core, or ‘plug’, of keratin, which can be seen. The top of the fifth toe (where it gets squashed by tight shoes) is the most common site for a corn. Sometimes they are found between the toes, where they can be extremely painful.
The best way to treat corns and calluses is to remove the hard keratin on a regular basis. This can be done by ‘shaving’ with a sharp, preferably sterile, blade. This is best done by a doctor or podiatrist. For those who prefer the do-it-yourself approach, a pumice stone can be used to do the job. Various preparations are available to help soften the areas of hyperkeratosis. These usually contain salicylic acid, which is present in corn plasters.
Although the discomfort of calluses and corns is often easily fixed, the problem will inevitably come back if the underlying problem, usually wearing the wrong pair of shoes, is not corrected. If changing shoes does not help, seeing a podiatrist may be helpful.
A podiatrist will treat corns and calluses by debriding or paring the callus and removing the centre of the corn. Pads are often used to reduce the friction and pressure of the corn. The podiatrist will also discuss the type of footwear most likely to cause corns or calluses and in some extreme cases prescribe orthotics to reduce excessive weight bearing forces on the foot.
The podiatrist will finally devise a treatment plan that will include the following:
- Recommend regular treatment
- Suggest a softening cream
- Advise on self care
- Give footwear advice or prescribe special footwear
- Provide padding devices to take the pressure of the painful area
- Analyse the pattern of walking and prescribe functional orthoses to help correct it.
It is important to discuss your mobility and footcare problems with Podiatrist. Our Podiatrist can advise which service or professional support is most appropriate to your needs.
The Podiatrist, after assessing your foot function may recommend orthoses or insoles to help relieve foot pain and discomfort.