What’s the Difference Between Corns and Calluses?

What’s the Difference Between Corns and Calluses?

Our feet go through a lot as they move us throughout our day. It’s no surprise, then, that the skin on them can start to show signs of wear. Most of us are no strangers to a blister when a shoe rubs an area of skin too much, for example.

However, over time, friction and pressure can cause other foot problems, too. Namely, you can end up with corns and calluses, which are areas of thick, hardened skin.

While these two foot conditions have some similarities, they have some key differences, too. Here at Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center in Laveen, Chandler, and Mesa, Arizona, our providers can figure out which ones are affecting your feet. More importantly, we can help you address the issue so it doesn’t get worse. 

Understanding the differences

Both corns and calluses develop on the feet due to friction or pressure. As a defense mechanism, skin hardens and thickens in the area, creating corns and calluses

Corns are usually smaller than calluses, and they consist of a hard center surrounded by swollen skin. Furthermore, corns are usually deeper than calluses, and they can be painful when pressed. Corns usually form on the tops or sides of the toes.

Calluses, on the other hand, usually develop on areas of pressure, such as on the heels or balls of the feet. Calluses are made of a thickening of the outer layer of skin, and, unlike corns, calluses are rarely painful.

In general, if you’re healthy, corns and calluses don’t need treatment unless they’re painful or you don’t like how they look. If you do want them removed, you shouldn’t do it on your own, because this could expose you to infection. This could be especially true if you have diabetes or another condition that affects blood flow. 

Getting rid of corns and calluses

If you have corns or calluses, there are some things you can do at home to see if they resolve on their own. There are also medical options.

At-home treatments

First, try to eliminate the source of friction. If you often wear shoes without socks, for example, try wearing socks regularly. This simple step just might get them to disappear. 

Or, if your shoes are the problem, try wearing shoes with a wider toe box or that are open-toed. In many cases, removing the source of friction will allow the hardened skin to heal in a matter of days or weeks.

Medical treatments

If making changes at home doesn’t help, come see us. We offer topical medications that can help peel away the corn or callus. We can also provide you with custom orthotics, which can reduce the friction and pressure in the problematic areas of your foot.

If the calluses and corns don’t respond to treatments such as the ones listed above, which is rare, we may recommend surgically removing the hardened skin. This can be especially important if you have another foot condition, such as hammertoe, which would cause the corn to get worse if it’s left untreated. 

If you want treatment for corns or calluses, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center today.

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