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Diseases and Conditions
Corns and callusesFrom MayoClinic.com
Special to CNN.com
You ask a lot of your hands and feet. You cram your feet into shoes and walk around all day. And you may apply great force to your hands as you work with tools in your job or at home. These actions subject your skin to friction and pressure. Your skin often protects itself by building up corns and calluses — thick, hardened layers of skin.
Although corns and calluses can be unsightly, you need treatment only if they cause discomfort. For most people, eliminating the source of friction or pressure helps corns and calluses disappear. If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications. Seek your doctor's advice on caring for corns and calluses.
Signs and symptoms
You may have a corn or callus if you notice:
Corns and calluses are often confused, but they're not the same thing. Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center. Corns usually develop on parts of your feet that don't bear weight, such as the tops and sides of your toes. Corns can be painful. Calluses, which may feel rough, are rarely painful and vary in size and shape, but are often more than an inch in diameter. Calluses usually develop on your palms and soles, especially underneath the bottom ends of your foot bones (metatarsals).
Pressure and friction from repetitive actions cause corns and calluses to develop. Some causes include:
These factors may increase your risk of corns and calluses:
When to seek medical advice
If a corn or callus becomes very painful or inflamed, see your doctor. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, call your doctor before self-treating corns or calluses. Even a relatively minor injury to your foot could lead to an open sore (foot ulcer) that's difficult to heal.
Screening and diagnosis
Your doctor will examine your feet and rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts. Your doctor may also request an X-ray to see if a physical abnormality is causing the corn or callus.
If a corn persists or becomes painful despite self-care, several treatments can provide relief. Your doctor can pare down a large corn with a scalpel, usually during an office visit. Your doctor may also suggest applying an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.
If you have an underlying foot deformity, your doctor may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts (orthotics) to prevent recurring corns. In rare instances, your doctor may also recommend surgery to correct the alignment of the bone causing the problem.
Eliminating sources of friction or pressure should help you prevent corns and calluses from developing. These approaches may help:
These suggestions may help you clear up corns and calluses:
April 05, 2005