When the weather starts getting cooler, we often start layering clothes to protect ourselves from the wind and dropping temperatures. Our feet have ways of protecting themselves from outside issues as well. Layers of thick, hardened skin, called corns and calluses, typically form as a barrier between your skin and friction placed upon it. Although they develop as a means of protection, this build-up of dead skin can actually become a painful problem, as well as a sign of other conditions.
Protection or Problem?
Corns are smaller than calluses, hard in the center and surrounded by inflamed skin—making them painful to the touch. They are typically found on or between the toes (called soft corns). Calluses, on the other hand, are usually found on the soles of the feet, often in pressure areas like the ball of your foot and heel. They vary in size but are larger than corns and may cause discomfort, but rarely pain. These thick layers of skin build in an attempt for your skin to protect itself, but often they do more harm than good.
Beneath the Surface
Conditions that may cause corns and calluses to form include bone protrusions and deformities like bunions, spurs, and hammertoes. Shoes that repeatedly press and rub are often behind the problem as well. Footwear that is too tight can compress the foot, causing friction. At the same time, a pair that is too loose can slip repetitively and rub your feet—the wrong way! Your skin reacts by “putting on” layers of protection. When these layers start to hurt more than they help, it’s time to pay Shenandoah Podiatry a visit.
Peeling off the Layers
Treatment for corns and calluses can often be as simple as eliminating the source of friction by treating an underlying condition and/or switching shoes. Padding placed on the area can add protection too. Also, orthotic shoe inserts can help to redistribute pressure away from the problem areas. There are topical medications that can help as well. You can also try soaking your feet, then using a pumice stone to gently smooth layers away. For stubborn cases, Dr. Jennifer Keller and Dr. Marshal Gwynn can trim away excess layers of skin. You should never try to do this at home, especially if you have diabetes, when the possibility of infection can be dangerous.
Prevent Piling It On
To avoid these pesky pile ups from forming in the first place, make sure shoes fit well, and that there are no seams or stitches on the insides that could rub and cause problems. Socks are important too—they also need to fit, and should always be worn. Skipping this extra layer of protection can put you more at risk. Keep skin moisturized, and talk to the experts at Shenandoah Podiatry about treatment for any deformities that could be contributing to the condition.
For more information about the treatment for corns and calluses, give us a call at (540) 808-4343 in Blacksburg, VA, or (540) 904-1458 in Roanoke.