THE FACTS ON FOOT CORNS:

WHAT ARE CORNS ON FEET?

Image of woman holding foot with corn on  pinky toe. 

When there’s an area of pressure or irritation on a spot that’s especially bony on your foot, a corn can appear. Corns are smaller than calluses, and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin, and can be painful when touched or rubbed by shoes especially . Formed from a small cellular nidus that sits at the base of the skin, there is a formation of hard, dead skin, they are often cone-like. It will usually form on the parts of your foot that don’t bear weight like the sides and tops of your toes, but can develop in weight-bearing areas too.

Special skin cells found all over your outer layers of skin called keratinocytes produce this hard skin, which is your body’s response to the rubbing and irritation at that site. Unfortunately, this extra skin can become hard and an uncomfortable problem because the cone-shaped area transfers touching or rubbing to the base skin layer underneath, leading to transmission of pain to the sensory nerves.

WHAT CAUSES A FOOT CORN?

image of womans feet next to high heels

If you have a foot or toe corn, it is likely because of repeated friction and pressure from footwear. The bones of your toes press up against the shoe, putting pressure on the skin. This thickened skin then irritates the tissue underneath.

Common causes of corns include:

  • Shoes that don’t fit properly. If they are too tight, they increase pressure; if they are too loose, they increase rubbing and friction.
  • High-heeled shoes that put pressure on the front part of your foot
  • Shoes with seams or stitching on the inside that can rub against your foot
  • Socks that don’t fit properly, or not wearing socks at all
  • Toe deformities, like hammer toe or claw toe
  • Repetitive activities like running, climbing stairs or even skiing

HOW TO GET RID OF CORNS ON FEET AND HELP PREVENT THEM?

The bad news about corns is they’re very common. The good news: they’re usually easily treated at home. Often, it’s as simple as giving your feet a break from that one pair of shoes you love but that rub your toe the wrong way. In addition, you can:

  • Try one of Dr. Scholl’s products for managing corns: corn removers and corn cushions. Dr. Scholl’s Corn Removers with Duragel® Technology are optimal for corn on toes and removing corns on feet overnight.
  • Soak your feet: Use warm, soapy water to soften corns, and use a pumice stone to remove thickened skin. Never use a sharp object to trim the skin yourself, as this can lead to cuts and infection.
  • Moisturize: Use creams or lotions to keep your skin soft and flexible.
  • Wear proper shoes and socks: Make sure your shoes fit you properly and give you lots of cushioning. The same goes for your socks. If your shoes are so tight that you can’t wiggle your toes, they’re too tight. Rotate your shoe type on a daily basis to ensure your feet aren’t always rubbed in the same places.
  • Relieve the pressure: Take pressure off your corn and it may go away. A cushioning pad over your corn can help stop it from rubbing against your shoe and relieve the pressure. The right socks and insole padding within your shoes can also help.

It’s important to know that you can treat corns when they happen, but if you don’t address the underlying issue that’s causing them, they will likely come back.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a foot corn?

A foot corn is a small, round bump that consists of hardened, thickened layers of skin. Corns form most often on the sides or tops of the toes as a result of friction, usually from shoes. Corns are often confused with calluses but there’s a difference. While both corns and calluses are typically caused by friction and produce thickened skin, calluses tend to form on the soles of the feet and cover a larger area. Corns tend to be smaller than calluses, and they may have a hard center or core. Corns can be painful and tender to the touch or when pressure is applied. The area around the corn may be inflamed. Calluses, on the other hand, aren’t usually painful or swollen.

There are several types of corns:

Hard corns – This type of corn, the most common type, is hard and dry. Hard corns are usually found on the tops of toes.
Soft corns – This type of corn is soft and malleable. Soft corns tend to be found in between toes.
Seed corns – This type of corn tends to be very small and is usually found on the sole of the foot. Some doctors think that seed corns may be caused by sweat duct blockages.

What does a corn on the foot look like?

A foot corn usually looks like a round, small bump that may be yellow, gray or white in color. Corns are most commonly found on the top or side of a toe although occasionally very small corns called seed corns can form on the bottom of the foot.

A corn on your foot looks like thick, hardened skin which may have a hard center, like a plug or a core. Hard corns are dry and hard while soft corns are soft and spongy. There may be inflammation around the corn.

How to get rid of a corn on the foot

While you should never try to completely get rid of a foot corn all at once, you can reduce a corn little by little following these steps:

1.) Using a foot bath, soak the feet for several minutes in warm water. This will soften the corn so that it’s easier to exfoliate.
2.) Gently exfoliate the corn using either a foot file or a pumice stone. Try to avoid removing too much of the corn at once as this can cause irritation.
3.) Apply a foot cream to moisturize the skin on and around the corn.
4.) Apply a liquid corn removal treatment product with salicylic acid.
5.) Protect the corn with a corn cushion. You can also use a combination product which treats the corn with salicylic acid while protecting the area with a soft cushion.

Repeat these steps at least once a week until the corn is gone. If the corn persists and is causing pain, see your doctor. In some cases, it may be necessary to have a podiatrist evaluate the corn. A podiatrist can use a special instrument to remove layers of the corn until it’s gone.

Foot corns will often go away on their own once the friction that caused the corn in the first place has been eliminated. Follow these tips to prevent corns from getting worse and to help prevent new corns from forming.

• Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes that don’t rub against the skin when you walk.
• Wear socks with shoes to cut down on friction. Moisture-wicking socks are especially effective at preventing friction.
• Keep toenails trim. When toenails are too long, the toes can be forced up against the shoes, causing rubbing when walking and running.

How to remove corn from foot

In order to remove a corn from your foot, you’ll need to make a regular and consistent effort to reduce layers of hardened skin a little bit at a time. It takes time for a corn to form, building layers of hardened skin. Because of this, it takes time and multiple attempts to remove a corn from the foot. Rather than trying to eliminate the corn in one sitting, exfoliate little by little on a regular basis. Follow these steps at least once a week to treat a corn on the foot:

• Take several minutes to soak your feet in warm water. This can be done in the bath or shower.
• Using a foot file or a pumice stone, gently exfoliate the top layers of the corn. Take care not to be too aggressive as this can cause discomfort and irritation.
• Apply a treatment product for corns that contains salicylic acid. You can also treat the corn using a cushion/treatment combo product. The cushions protect the corn while the treatment product eliminates layers of the corn.

How to dig out a corn on foot

Never try to dig out a foot corn as this can cause injury to the skin, increasing the risk of infection. It’s best to eliminate a corn little by little with exfoliation using a pumice stone or foot file. You can also use a corn treatment containing salicylic acid. If your corn is persistent or causing pain, see your healthcare provider. A doctor can remove a corn in layers using a special instrument. Removing the entire corn may require several appointments.

Can you pull a corn out of your foot?

No, you cannot pull a corn out of your foot. If you want to eliminate a foot corn, you’ll need to reduce it little by little over time by gently exfoliating with a foot file or a pumice stone, or by using a corn removal product that contains salicylic acid. You should not attempt to remove a corn all at once as this can cause irritation or injury. See your doctor if your corn doesn’t go away despite at-home efforts or if it’s causing pain. Doctors can use a special corn removal tool in order to eliminate a corn. However, it may take several attempts to eliminate the corn entirely.