Why Do My Calluses and Corns Keep Coming Back?

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A plantar callus

As a Toronto and surrounding area in-home certified foot care nurse, this is a question I often hear. There are many reasons why corns and calluses keep coming back. First of all, what are corns and calluses?

What are the three types of corns?

Seed corn – often found on the ball or the heel of the foot, it is a small, white plug in the skin. It can be painful.

Hard corn – often found on the top of the toe or on the outside of the little toe. It has a thick, white surface.

Soft corn – found between the toes, most often between the fourth and fifth toes.

What is a callus?

A callus is an area of skin that has been subjected to repeated rubbing or friction. An area of dense, rough skin develops to protect the sensitive skin underneath. A callus on the bottom of the foot is called a plantar callus.

What causes corns and calluses?

  • ill-fitting shoes that are either too tight or too loose
  • narrow or pointy-toed shoes
  • high heels
  • structural problems of the foot including hammer toes, bunions, lack of fatty padding on the ball of the foot

How do I stop or at least minimize the occurrence of repeated corns and calluses?

  • have shoes properly fitted
  • avoid wearing very high heels
  • wear mid-high heels that are no more than 2 inches high
  • make sure shoes have well padded insoles
  • there are many good insoles available in the foot care aisle of a well-stocked pharmacy
  • apply moisturizer to affected areas. Use a moisturizer that contains urea since this is especially effective.
  • if you have bunions,  hammertoes or wide feet, make sure your shoes comfortably accommodate them
  • while showering or bathing, use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate dry, rough patches
  • have your corns and calluses reduced by a certified foot care nurse who is trained to do so.

A word about diabetes and corns/calluses:

The risk of getting an infection in the foot is higher in a person with diabetes. Poor healing of open sores and wounds in the foot leads to infection and a higher risk of lower limb amputation. For this reason, a person with diabetes is strongly advised to avoid reducing calluses and removing corns on their own.

Copyright Terry McDermott. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission of author

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