Corn Removal: Techniques for Removing Foot Corns

What is a Corn?

A corn is an area of thickened skin that occurs in areas of pressure or friction. When shoes rub on the toes and heels, it can result in corn. Whilst seemingly a minor skin condition, it can be incredibly painful, especially if the friction that created them continues.

Corns are one of the most common problems seen by us here at Highett Podiatry. We remove corns and calluses regularly.

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What Causes Corns?

Corns are caused by too much pressure and usually in combination with some friction. The development of a corn is a normal and natural way for the body to protect itself by increasing the amount of skin in the area so that you don’t rub a hole in it.

When too much skin forms, the increased layers of dead skin cells on the foot form a thick, hardened cone-shaped core, and can develop into what we call a corn. This hard area can feel as hard as a rock and can put extra pressure on the skin below. This can cause inflammation of the tissue beneath the corn and press on nerves leading to pain, discomfort and even bleeding.

Too much pressure can result from:

Footwear that is too tight

Wearing shoes that are too tight can cause friction and pressure on the toes and other parts of the foot, leading to the development of corns. High-heeled shoes, shoes with pointed toes, and shoes that are too narrow are common culprits.

When the toes are squeezed together, it can cause the bones to rub against each other, leading to the formation of corns. To prevent corns from developing, it is important to wear comfortable shoes that fit properly and have enough room for the toes to move freely.

Toe deformities such as hammer toes

Hammer toes are a type of toe deformity that can cause the toes to bend or curl downward, creating pressure and friction on the tops and tips of the toes.

This can cause corns to form on these areas as a result of the repeated friction and pressure. In addition to corns, hammer toes can also cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected toes.

Treatment for hammer toes may involve wearing orthotics or special footwear, doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected muscles, or in some cases, surgery to correct the deformity.

Bony prominences

Bony prominences are areas where the bone sticks out more than usual, such as the joints of the toes or the heel bone. When these areas are subjected to pressure or friction, it can cause corns to develop.

Bony prominences can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, injury, or underlying medical conditions. Treatment for bony prominences may involve wearing padded inserts or orthotics, doing exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility, or in severe cases, surgery to remove the bony growths.

Prevention of Corns

Corns are easy to prevent if you take away the cause and that cause is excessive pressure:

  • Having your feet professionally measured before buying new shoes to ensure perfect fit for your feet.
  • Aim to shop for shoes towards the end of the day. Your feet swell the most in the afternoon and this is a good indication of what shoes will rub and lead to corns.
  • Keep shoes in good condition. Worn shoes provide less protection and padding to absorb the shock of force when your foot hits the ground.
  • Wear socks to protect your feet and socks made of natural fibres will allow your skin to breathe and cushion your feet.
  • Keep feet dry, particularly in between toes where corns can pop up from regular rubbing of the skin inside shoes. Dry feet are less prone to friction.

When to Seek Professional Help for Corn Removal Treatment

It is never advisable to self-treat your corns. Self-treatment can cause breaking of the skin and in turn cause infection. Never use an over-the-counter corn removal pad. These are very dangerous and can cause increased tissue breakdown and ulceration.

Here are some tips for when to seek professional help to remove corns and calluses:

If you have diabetes or other medical conditions

If you have diabetes or other medical conditions that affect your feet, it is imperative that you seek professional help for corn removal. A podiatrist can provide safe and effective treatment options that minimise the risk of complications.

If the corns are painful

If you experience pain or discomfort from your corns, it is advisable to seek professional help. A podiatrist can assess your condition and provide pain relief options, as well as remove the corns to prevent further pain and discomfort.

If the corns are affecting your daily activities

If your corns are interfering with your daily activities such as walking or exercising, it is recommended to seek professional corn removal treatment. A podiatrist can provide treatment options that will allow you to resume your normal activities without discomfort.

Treatment of Corns

Corns can become serious if left untreated as they can lead to infection and other foot problems. When it comes to how to treat corns and calluses, self-treatment is not recommended. The use of ‘corn plasters’ in those who are at risk or have frail skin are very likely to cause an ulcer which could become infected and if the circulation is poor, an amputation is a possibility.

Cutting corns yourself (bathroom surgery) is not without its dangers, especially if you cut yourself. The warm, moist environment of your enclosed shoes can easily cause infection to develop into a serious wound.

Regarding how to treat corns and calluses, corns are easy to take out, however the reason they keep coming back is that the cause is still there and that cause is pressure. If the pressure is not removed, they will come back, requiring you to remove corns and calluses again.

Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Corns and Keep Feet Healthy

Here are some of the lifestyle changes that you can make to avoid corns and keep your feet healthy:

  • Wear comfortable and well-fitting shoes: Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose. Your shoes should have enough room for your toes to wiggle and should fit snugly around the arch of your foot. Avoid shoes that have high heels or pointy toes, which can cause friction and pressure on your toes.
  • Choose the right socks: Wear socks that are made of breathable materials like cotton or wool, which can absorb moisture and prevent friction. Avoid synthetic materials that trap moisture and cause your feet to sweat.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry: Wash your feet regularly with soap and water to keep them clean and free from bacteria. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes, to prevent moisture buildup, which can cause fungal infections.
  • Use cushioned insoles: Cushioned insoles can provide extra padding and support for your feet. They can reduce pressure and friction, which can prevent corns from forming. Replace your insoles regularly to ensure they continue to provide proper support.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts pressure on your feet and can lead to corns. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the pressure on your feet and prevent corns from forming.
  • Trim your toenails: Trim your toenails regularly, but avoid cutting them too short or rounding the corners, as this can cause pressure and friction on your toes.
  • Use moisturiser: Apply moisturiser to your feet regularly to prevent dryness and cracking, which can lead to corns.
  • Stretch your feet and toes: Stretching can help improve circulation and prevent muscle tightness, which can cause corns. Try exercises like toe curls or rolling a ball under your foot to stretch your feet and toes.

Written by Sophie Young, Director & Podiatrist. Reviewed by Kirsti Mann, Director & Podiatrist

Always Consult A Trained Professional

The information in this resource is general in nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult a trained professional practising in the area of medicine in relation to any injury or condition. You use or rely on information in this resource at your own risk and no party involved in the production of this resource accepts any responsibility for the information contained within it or your use of that information.