Corns & Callus
One of the most common reasons for struggling to walk are painful corns & calluses on our feet. Corns & calluses are areas of very hard thick skin.
The hard skin forms due to excessive pressure & where friction rubs over prominent areas of our feet.
These areas of hard skin can become very painful due to the pressure on the skin increasing as the corn & callus builds up. Corns are even more painful than callus due to their conical shape concentrating pressure from a wider area down to a thin point.
Corns get their name from the Latin Cornu, meaning horn, due to the skin’s keratin (a type of protein) growing in very dense layers, much like animal horn, This is called hyperkeratosis.
Corns are not often serious, but can be exquisitely painful when the deep point of the corn presses into sensory nerve endings.
The reasons for high pressure areas on our feet is often footwear pressing on the skin, mostly due to badly shaped shoes which are either too short, too narrow or too shallow for our feet. Or when footwear shapes & styes don’t allow adequate room for our feet, sometimes tightly pressing toes together instead of allowing them to spread naturally.
High heels can also increase pressures under the balls of our feet leading to painful calluses forming.
Occasionally, footwear is not the only issue as some people may have mal-aligned joint positions, due to a foot injury or congenital problem, or a gait abnormality. Some people have less cushioning fat pads under their feet, meaning normal pressures can lead to corns and calluses forming even when they wear appropriate footwear. Also, if the condition of the skin is compromised, and the skin is very dry or thin it can lose its elasticity making it less resistant to mechanical forces & friction.
Some people, like patients with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, are particularly at risk of more serious complications, as the corn or callus can lead to the skin breaking down to form ulcers.
Podiatrists are expert at treating these common foot maladies. In fact, the foot health profession started during The Renaissance in the Royal Courts of Europe when kings & queens developed corns due to wearing stiff high-heeled shoes. Being “well-heeled” often came with a painful price.
Podiatrists in the seventeenth century were known as ‘corn-cutters’. Later, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte himself, and President Abraham Lincoln had their own ‘corn-cutters’.
Our role as modern health professionals is to remove the painful corn or callus, discover the cause, and work with patients to eradicate them once & for all, or prevent them coming back so quickly. This can often mean giving patients footwear advice and making protective splints and orthotic foot supports to offload the corn and reduce the pressure, allowing the skin to return to normal.
If you need advice or treatment due to foot pain please give our reception staff a phone call on 01326 565 565