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What is the difference between Callus & a corn?


A typical plantar corn

What are they?
Callus and corns are both an abnormal thickening of the non-living outer layer of the skin. They are both caused by to much pressure on that area of skin.
Callus is broad and flat whilst corns have a very hard central core like a pebble and are more painful. This thickening is caused when the skin is subjected to too much pressure. Although corns cause pain, the corn is not actually alive and doesn’t have nerves and therefore, the corn itself is not in pain . The core of the corn focuses the pressure into a small area, pushes on the normal skin below it and it is that living skin that is in pain.

The pressure that causes callus and/or corns to form can either be caused from external things (almost always footwear) or by some aspect of the foots structure that puts too much pressure in one place and too little in another.

What can be done about them?
The good news is that, because callus and corns don’t have nerves, removing them does not hurt. No matter how painful they are when you walk in, the podiatrist can remove the callus or corn without damage to the healthy skin surrounding it and without trauma to you. No anaesthetic is required.

The pain of walking will be reduced immediately, just like the pain of walking on a pebble would be immediately reduced by removing it from the shoe.

How to keep the corn away depends on what caused it in the first place. If the problem is footwear, the podiatrist will give you specific instructions on what aspect of the shoes has caused the problem. If the issue is related to foot structure, it is usually possible to custom make a simple pad or shoe insert to deflect the pressure off the problem site.

What should I do now?

Don’t use corn pads. The medicated core of a corn pad is a strong salicylic acid paste that is supposed to dissolve the corn. The problem with this idea is that the corn is far harder than the normal (but painful) skin around it.

Applying the acid to the area will often lead to burning of the good skin and more pain. In repairing itself from the trauma of the burn, the skin will generally become overly excited resulting in a rapid regrowth of the corn.

Remember that a corn can’t be killed or poisoned like a mole or a wart can because it is not alive. Surgically cutting out a corn and the surrounding skin and stitching up the wound, freezing it or burning it have absolutely no chance of working and will only irritate it. See a podiatrist, have the corn painlessly removed and learn your options to keep the corn at bay in the future.

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