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Corns and calluses

Calluses and corns

 

Corns and calluses are thick layers of skin. They are caused by repeated pressure or friction at the spot where the corn or callus develops.

Causes

 

Corns and calluses are caused by pressure or friction on skin. A corn is thickened skin on the top or side of a toe. Most of the time it is caused by bad fitting shoes. A callus is thickened skin on your hands or the soles of your feet.

The thickening of the skin is a protective reaction. For example, farmers and rowers get calluses on their hands that prevent blisters from forming. People with bunions often develop a callus over the bunion because it rubs against the shoe.

Corns and calluses are not serious problems.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin is thick and hardened.
  • Skin may be flaky and dry.
  • Hardened, thick skin areas are found on hands, feet, or other areas that may be rubbed or pressed.
  • The affected areas can be painful and may bleed.

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider will make the diagnosis after looking at your skin. In most cases, tests are not needed.

 

Treatment

 

Preventing friction is often the only treatment needed.

To treat corns:

  • If poor fitting shoes are causing the corn, changing to shoes that fit better will help get rid of the problem most of the time.
  • Protect the corn with a doughnut-shaped corn pad while it is healing. You can buy these at most drug stores.

To treat calluses:

  • Calluses often occur due to excess pressure placed on the skin because of another problem such as bunions or hammertoes. Proper treatment of any underlying condition should prevent the calluses from returning.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands during activities that cause friction (such as gardening and weight lifting) can help prevent calluses.

If an infection or ulcer occurs in an area of a callus or corn, the tissue may need to be removed by a provider. You may need to take antibiotics.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Corns and calluses are rarely serious. They should improve with proper treatment and not cause long-term problems.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications of corns and calluses are rare. People with diabetes are prone to ulcers and infections and should regularly examine their feet to identify any problems right away. Such foot injuries need medical attention.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Check your feet carefully if you have diabetes or numbness in the feet or toes.

Otherwise, the problem should resolve with changing to better-fitting shoes or wearing gloves.

Call your provider if:

  • You have diabetes and notice problems with your feet.
  • You think your corn or callus is not getting better with treatment.
  • You have continued symptoms of pain, redness, warmth, or drainage from the area.

 

 

References

American Diabetes Association. Standard of medical care in diabetes 2015 abridged for primary care providers. Clin Diabetes. 2015;33(2):97-111. PMID: 25897193 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25897193.

Murphy AG. Lesser toe abnormalities. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 83.

 
  • Corns and calluses

    Corns and calluses - illustration

    Corns and calluses form on the skin because of repeated pressure or friction. A corn is a small, tender area of thickened skin that occurs on the top or side of a toe. A callus is a rough, thickened area of skin that appears because of repeated irritation or pressure to an area of skin. Calluses usually develop on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.

    Corns and calluses

    illustration

  • Skin layers

    Skin layers - illustration

    The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature. The skin contains secretions that can kill bacteria and the pigment melanin provides a chemical pigment defense against ultraviolet light that can damage skin cells. Another important function of the skin is body temperature regulation. When the skin is exposed to a cold temperature, the blood vessels in the dermis constrict. This allows the blood which is warm, to bypass the skin. The skin then becomes the temperature of the cold it is exposed to. Body heat is conserved since the blood vessels are not diverting heat to the skin anymore. Among its many functions the skin is an incredible organ always protecting the body from external agents.

    Skin layers

    illustration

    • Corns and calluses

      Corns and calluses - illustration

      Corns and calluses form on the skin because of repeated pressure or friction. A corn is a small, tender area of thickened skin that occurs on the top or side of a toe. A callus is a rough, thickened area of skin that appears because of repeated irritation or pressure to an area of skin. Calluses usually develop on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.

      Corns and calluses

      illustration

    • Skin layers

      Skin layers - illustration

      The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin and its derivatives (hair, nails, sweat and oil glands) make up the integumentary system. One of the main functions of the skin is protection. It protects the body from external factors such as bacteria, chemicals, and temperature. The skin contains secretions that can kill bacteria and the pigment melanin provides a chemical pigment defense against ultraviolet light that can damage skin cells. Another important function of the skin is body temperature regulation. When the skin is exposed to a cold temperature, the blood vessels in the dermis constrict. This allows the blood which is warm, to bypass the skin. The skin then becomes the temperature of the cold it is exposed to. Body heat is conserved since the blood vessels are not diverting heat to the skin anymore. Among its many functions the skin is an incredible organ always protecting the body from external agents.

      Skin layers

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

         

        Review Date: 4/13/2015

        Reviewed By: Dennis Ogiela, MD, Orthopedic Surgery and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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