Whether you've just taken off your boots after a long winter or sandal season is year-round where you live, you're probably more aware of the corns and calluses on your feet these days. While corns and calluses are more of a nuisance than a serious medical condition, odds are you'd rather avoid them altogether. Luckily, if you understand what they are and what causes them, you'll find there are really easy solutions to making sure you don't get them again.
Corns on the top or sides of your feet and calluses on the bottom of your feet are caused by friction between your feet and your shoes. While they may be unsightly, their tough exterior actually protects your foot from excessive pressure or friction.
The three main causes of corns and calluses are:
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, "corns and calluses are areas of thickened skin that develop to protect that area from irritation." The difference between corns and calluses is actually where they occur on your foot.
When the hard, thickened skin is on the bottom of your foot, it's a callus. Calluses typically develop near the base of the toes. When it's on the top or sides of your foot or your toes, it's a corn.
Both corns and calluses usually have a rough appearance. They can be raised or rounded. Calluses are typically yellowish, however after prolonged irritation, you may notice a brown, red or black discoloration develop. In some cases larger calluses can dry out and crack, which can be painful and increase the possibility of infection.
It can be hard to tell if you have a corn or callus, or something else. Often, planters warts are confused for calluses. If you want a diagnosis, you should visit a medical professional who will inspect your feet for these types of abnormalities that may be the cause:
If you do indeed have corns or calluses, you'll find there are plenty of easy treatments to address them.
While the best treatment for a corn or callus is properly fitting shoes that give your toes enough room so they do not rub against the shoe, there are other treatments to try:
Though it may be tempting, it's best not to have your corns or calluses removed at a nail salon during a pedicure or to remove them yourself at home. Infection can occur, making your problem much more serious. Instead, make sure a licensed professional is correctly removing the dead tissue.
For many people, corns and calluses won’t cause any adverse effects in daily life. However, for some people they can become painful, especially if they are not addressed and become infected.
If you develop corns or calluses, start by looking at your lifestyle to see if any of your habits are the cause. The Cleveland Clinic points to these issues that, when changed, can reduce or prevent corns and calluses:
Once you have made sure you have shoes that fit properly, you'll want to address any pronation issues you have. Adding arch support insoles for calluses and corns can limit overpronation or supination which will prevent calluses and corns.
If you have to wear high heels, try to reduce the amount of time you spend in them, as they put added pressure on your toes and the balls of your feet. Wearing heels that are two inches or lower will also help you avoid corns and calluses.
Arch support inserts can help prevent corns and calluses by correcting biomechanics and limiting your pronation. They'll ensure your foot is not slipping inside your shoe, causing unnecessary friction that causes corns and calluses. Insoles also help prevent hammer toes, a secondary cause of corns and calluses.
To find the best insoles for calluses and corns, look for some important features:
Whether you're looking for shoe inserts for callus pain or ones that will help reduce or prevent your calluses and corns, make sure you get ones that fit your footwear properly. Your insoles shouldn't make your shoes too tight for your feet.
If your shoes have full-length, removable inserts, look for regular callus and corn insoles. If your shoes have a thin, removable insert, find thin insoles. And if your shoes don't have a removable insole at all, buy short insoles.
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