How to get rid of corns and calluses on feet

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cornscallusesAre you experiencing a lot of discomfort because of your corns? Do nasty calluses make you feel all self-conscious? In the situation that you have provided an affirmative answer to either of these two questions, you have to keep on reading this article.

You have arrived at the perfect resource, as, in the paragraphs that follow, you will find a lot of useful information and practical advice on how to get rid of corns and calluses on feet.

Remember that it is not sufficient to get these treated, you will also have to work on the underlying cause (most common, repeated friction or pressure).

Corns and calluses, a response to constant trauma

Millions of people present corns and calluses on their feet, being displeased with the hard, thickened skin. In the medical world, this condition is known as hyperkeratosis of the feet. The corn is a thickening that occurs on pressure points, having various shapes and a translucent appearance. Calluses are often flat and they appear to be caused by constriction. The skin suffers from yellowish or white discoloration in the affected areas.

It is important to understand that such problems are caused by constant trauma, most often in the form of repeated friction or pressure, as it was already mentioned above. Wearing ill-fitting shoes is a contributing factor, especially since the weight of the body is not equally distributed on the sole or the toe box is too narrow. The good news is that there are plenty of solutions for such problems, allowing you to regain the healthy-looking aspect of your feet.

An article[1] published in the American Family Physician presents mechanical hyperkeratosis as the main cause of both corns and calluses. The article draws attention to the fact that ill-fitted shoes, abnormal foot mechanics and being highly active are among the main factors that contribute to the problem. As the authors of the article point out, it is essential to remove the mechanical forces responsible for the problem. Surgery should be considered only in the situation that conservative treatments have failed to provide the desired results.

First and foremost, go to the source of the problem

It is essential to determine what is causing the corns and calluses to form. Are you wearing ill-fitting shoes? Do you need to change your insoles or wear customized orthotics? Make sure that you eliminate the problem responsible for the excess pressure or friction. Otherwise, regardless of how many treatment solutions you try out, the corns and calluses are going to re-occur.

Choose your footwear, so that it fits well and make sure that there is enough toe space (no constriction). Choose customized shoe inserts, in order to correct the distribution of the body weight at the level of the sole. Use foam wedges to maintain the proper distance between toes. Sometimes, a surgical intervention might be necessary, so as to eliminate the main problem.

Medical specialists recommend that you wear pads over the corns, in order to protect them from further irritation. These pads actually contain salicylic acid, which is a keratolytic, being able to speed up the healing process.

Foot soaks, an excellent treatment solution for both corns and calluses

A simple foot soak can help you soften both corns and calluses, taking care of them afterwards with the aid of a pumice stone. Place your feet in warm and soapy water, keeping them in there for about 20 minutes or until your skin softens. Then, using a clean pumice stone, try to sand down your corns and calluses. Make sure to use back and forth motions as these are the most effective. Repeat the process every night, before going to bed, until you notice satisfactory results. Keep in mind that it is more effective to sand down these growths in a gradual manner, rather than try to eliminate them all at once.

A study[2] published in the Indian Journal of Leprosy discussed the benefits of foot soaks for calluses and skin fissures. The study was undertaken on patients diagnosed with leprosy, presenting unsightly calluses and skin fissures. The foot soak in soapy water was confirmed to be most effective for softening the thickened skin, being easier to remove afterwards, with the help of a scraper.

Medical solutions for corns and calluses on feet

It is possible to address the thickened skin on the feet through medicated products. Many of these products contain salicylic acid, a substance which is able to dissolve keratin, the main protein of the skin. Most commonly, such as products are available as plasters or pads, being recommended for protective purposes as well. People who suffer from diabetes or circulatory problems should avoid such products (discuss with the doctor first about advisable treatment solutions).

In the situation that the corns or calluses cause serious pain or discomfort, you can visit the podiatrist for treatment. The podiatrist can use a scalpel to remove the corns/calluses, applying antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. He/she can also recommend orthotic devices, which will redistribute your body weight at the level of the feet and, thus, reduce the pressure experienced.

The surgical removal of corns and/or calluses is generally the last alternative. It is important to understand that, even though the surgical removal might seem like a definite treatment, reoccurrence is quite frequent, especially if the cause of pressure or excess friction is not removed. Severe cases require that the underlying bone is shaved as well, in order to correct any existent deformities and reduce the level of pressure. Cushioned insoles might be recommended as a post-operative measure, in order to improve the mechanical pressure.

According to a study[3] published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, venereology and leprosy, the removal of corns can be handled through a method known as punch incision. Authors of the study draw attention to the fact that the medical management of corns can be difficult, with surgical removal being the only possibility in some cases. The study confirmed the usage of the punch incision technique on recalcitrant, small-sized corns.

Home remedies

As corns and calluses do not represent life-threatening problems, they can be successfully treated with home remedies. In the paragraphs below, you will find some of the most popular solutions for you to try out.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is acidic and it can help you soften the thickened skin, making it easier to be removed with a pumice stone. All you have to do is add some apple cider vinegar to water and soak your feet in the resulting mixture for about 15 minutes. Once your skin has softened, it is time to try out the pumice stone. You can also apply castor oil after the soak, as this works wonders on the corns. Repeat the remedy each day, until you notice an improvement.

Vitamin E oil

Take a capsule of vitamin E oil and break it gently, applying the oil that comes out on your corns and/or calluses. Use this remedy before going to bed and keep it on all night long, putting on socks immediately after the application. In the morning, use the pumice stone to sand down your thickened skin. Repeat until the corns/calluses are gone.

Lemon peel

The lemon peel can work wonders on nasty corns, so do not hesitate to give it a try. Take a lemon peel and apply it on existent corns, then cover them with clean bandages and put on socks. In the morning, these should be soft enough to be removed with a pumice stone.

Onion

Take a glass contained and add onion slices with a little bit of white wine vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for a couple of hours, in a warm location. Before going to bed, apply the onion slice to your corn/calluses. Cover them with a bandage and put on socks. In the morning, use your pumice stone to remove the softened skin. Repeat whenever necessary.

Bread

You might not expect bread to be a great remedy against thickened skin but it actually is. All you have to do is take a slice of bread and soak it in apple cider vinegar. Apply the bread to the callused area and use plastic wrap to cover it. Then, put on your socks and go to bed. In the morning, you should be able to sand down your calluses more easily.

Aspirin

Take a couple of aspirin tablets and crush them, as much as you can. Then, mix them with apple cider vinegar and water (in equal parts). Apply the resulting paste on your corns and/or calluses, covering the application with a bandage. Wait for 10 minutes, then rinse it off and use your pumice stone to remove the softened skin.

What happens if these become infected?

It can happen that your corns or calluses become infected, especially if the feet are subjected to constant trauma and proper hygiene measures are not followed. In such situations, the doctor will recommend a topical antibiotic treatment, in order to treat the bacterial infection. You have to be on the lookout for signs of infection, such as warmth, redness, inflammation or purulent collection. Do not try to handle the infection on your own and keep in mind that topical antibiotic ointments can also be administered for preventative purposes (keep the risk of infection at the lowest possible level).

Warnings to remember

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or other circulatory disease, it is not recommended to treat corns or calluses on your own. You should visit a medical specialist, in order to discuss about the best care for such problems (in accordance to the conditions you are suffering from).

No matter how tempting it may be, it is not advisable to cut, shave or pick your thickened skin. Not only can such actions lead to the appearance of painful wounds but, at the same time, there is a major risk of infection and, eventually, scarring.

References
[1] Corns and calluses resulting from mechanical hyperkeratosis. American Family Physician. 2002, 65(11). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12074526
[2] Foot soaks for callosities and fissures. Indian Journal of Leprosy. 1990, 62(4). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2086684
[3] Removal of corns by punch incision. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy. 2014, 80(1). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24448122


About the Author Helen Anderson

Helen is a podiatry student that noticed most solid information on foot health was locked away in books since most practitioners are a bit old school. She aims to bring this body of knowledge on-line in an easy and accessible way, and end the embarrassment associated with seeking help for foot health problems.

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