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When it comes to foot problems, callus vs corn is a topic that often arises. Both of these conditions are common foot issues that cause discomfort and pain. Despite their similarities, they are distinct from one another and require different treatment approaches. This article will explore the differences between calluses and corns, their causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options. It will also provide insights on when to consult a podiatrist and answer some frequently asked questions about callus vs corn.

Callus vs Corn: Unraveling the Differences Between These Common Foot Problems

callus vs corn

Foot Callus

Introduction to Callus vs Corn

Calluses: Definition, Causes, and Symptoms

Definition

Calluses are areas of thick, hard skin that develop on the feet (or hands) as a result of friction or pressure. They typically form on the soles, balls, or sides of the feet and can vary in size and shape. Calluses are a natural protective response of the body to protect the skin and underlying tissues.

Causes

The primary cause of calluses is prolonged friction or pressure on the skin. This can occur due to various factors, such as:

  • Wearing ill-fitting or tight shoes that create pressure on specific areas of the feet
  • High-heeled shoes that place increased pressure on the balls of the feet
  • Walking or standing for long periods, especially on hard surfaces
  • Having an irregular gait or foot deformities (such as hammertoes) that cause uneven weight distribution on the feet
  • Participating in activities that put stress on the feet, like running or dancing

Related: Causes of Heel Pain

Symptoms

Calluses are usually painless and may not cause any discomfort. However, they may lead to other issues if they become too large or thick. Some common symptoms of calluses include:

  • Areas of thick, hard skin on the feet
  • A yellowish or grayish color to the thickened skin
  • A flattened or shiny appearance to the skin
  • Discomfort or pain when walking or standing, especially if the callus is large or located on a weight-bearing area of the foot

Related:What Are Foot Corns? Treatments and Prevention

CORNS: DEFINITION, CAUSES, AND SYMPTOMS DEFINITION

Corns are small, circular patches of thickened skin that develop on the feet, often on or between the toes. They can be classified as hard corns, which have a dense core, or soft corns, which have a rubbery texture. Like calluses, corns are a protective response of the body to friction or pressure. However, corns tend to be more painful and localized than calluses.

Causes

Similar to calluses, corns primarily develop due to friction and pressure on the skin. Some common causes of corns include:

  • Wearing tight, ill-fitting, or high-heeled shoes that create pressure on the toes or other parts of the feet
  • Abnormal foot structure or deformities (such as hammertoes or bunions) that cause pressure points on the feet
  • Improper gait or walking patterns that create friction on the toes
  • Frequent pressure on the feet due to activities like running, hiking, or dancing

Symptoms

Corns can be quite painful and cause discomfort when walking, standing, or wearing shoes. Some common symptoms of corns include:

  • Small, circular, raised patches of thickened skin on the feet, particularly on or between the toes
  • Tenderness, pain, or inflammation around the corn
  • A hard, dense core within the corn (in the case of hard corns)
  • A soft, rubbery texture (in the case of soft corns)

Related: Plantar Fasciitis: Prevention and Treatment

Key Differences Between Calluses and Corns

While both calluses and corns are caused by friction and pressure on the skin, there are some key differences between the two conditions:

  1. Location: Calluses typically form on the soles, balls, or sides of the feet, while corns develop on or between the toes.
  2. Appearance: Calluses are usually larger, flattened, and have a yellowish or grayish color, whereas corns are smaller, circular, and raised with a hard or soft core.
  3. Pain: Calluses are generally painless, while corns can be quite painful and cause discomfort when walking or wearing shoes.
  4. Causes: Both conditions can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, foot deformities, or excessive pressure, but corns are more likely to develop due to abnormal gait or walking patterns.

corn, callus, wart chart

Risk Factors for Developing Corns and Calluses

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing corns and calluses. These include:

  • Wearing ill-fitting, tight, or high-heeled shoes
  • Having foot deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, or flat feet
  • Walking or standing for long periods on hard surfaces
  • Participating in activities that put stress on the feet, like running, hiking, or dancing
  • Aging, as the skin loses its elasticity and becomes more prone to friction and pressure

Related: Understanding Common Foot Problems

    Preventative Measures for Corns and Calluses

    To reduce the risk of developing corns and calluses, consider the following preventative measures:

    1. Choose well-fitting, comfortable shoes: Select shoes that provide adequate cushioning, support, and room for your toes. Avoid shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have high heels.
    2. Wear proper socks: Opt for socks made of moisture-wicking materials that fit well and do not bunch up inside your shoes.
    3. Maintain proper foot hygiene: Keep your feet clean and dry, and moisturize regularly to prevent dry, cracked skin.
    4. Use protective padding: Apply cushioned pads or insoles to your shoes to reduce pressure and friction on your feet.
    5. Address foot deformities: Consult a podiatrist for advice on treating foot deformities, such as hammertoes or bunions, which may contribute to the development of corns and calluses.

    Treatment Options for Callus vs Corn

    While both calluses and corns can be treated at home, some cases may require professional intervention. Here are some treatment options for callus vs corn:

      Home remedies

      • Soaking the affected area in warm water to soften the skin
      • Gently exfoliating the thickened skin with a pumice stone or foot file
      • Applying over-the-counter salicylic acid treatments to dissolve the thickened skin (Note: These treatments should be used with caution, as they can cause skin irritation or damage surrounding healthy skin)
      • Using protective padding, such as moleskin or foam pads, to reduce pressure and friction on the affected area

      Medical treatments

      If home remedies do not provide relief, or if the corn or callus becomes painful or infected, consult a podiatrist. They may recommend the following treatments:

      • Professional trimming or debridement of the corn or callus
      • Custom orthotics or shoe inserts to address underlying foot deformities or gait issues
      • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
      • Surgical intervention for severe cases, particularly if foot deformities are the primary cause

      Related: Causes of Toe Pain and Useful Tips

          When to Consult a Podiatrist for Corns and Calluses

          It is essential to consult a podiatrist in the following situations:

          • The corn or callus becomes painful, inflamed, or infected
          • Home remedies do not provide relief or improvement
          • The corn or callus recurs frequently
          • There are underlying foot deformities or gait issues that may be contributing to the development of corns and calluses

          When to Consult a Podiatrist for Corns and Calluses

          It is essential to consult a podiatrist in the following situations:

          • The corn or callus becomes painful, inflamed, or infected
          • Home remedies do not provide relief or improvement
          • The corn or callus recurs frequently
          • There are underlying foot deformities or gait issues that may be contributing to the development of corns and calluses

          Frequently Asked Questions About Callus vs Corn

          Q: Can I remove a callus or corn by cutting it off?

          A: It is not recommended to cut off a callus or corn yourself, as this can lead to injury or infection. Instead, try home remedies like soaking and gentle exfoliation, or consult a podiatrist for professional treatment.

          Q: Are corns and calluses contagious?

          A: No, corns and calluses are not contagious. They are a result of friction and pressure on the skin and are not caused by a virus or bacteria.

          Q: Can corns and calluses be prevented entirely?

          A: While it may not be possible to prevent all corns and calluses, practicing proper foot care and wearing well-fitting shoes can significantly reduce the risk of developing these conditions.

          Callus vs Corn: what is the difference?

          In conclusion, understanding the differences between callus vs corn is crucial for proper treatment and prevention. Both conditions are caused by friction and pressure on the skin, but they have distinct characteristics and symptoms. By taking preventative measures, such as wearing comfortable shoes, maintaining proper foot hygiene, and addressing foot deformities, individuals can reduce their risk of developing corns and calluses. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort due to corns or calluses, consult a podiatrist for a professional evaluation and treatment plan.

           

          Related: further information on Corns and Calluses (Mt Sinai-New York)

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