Corns and calluses are areas of hyperkeratosis, or overgrowth of skin tissue. The skin thickens and hardens. They can be annoying, but your body actually forms them to protect sensitive skin.
Calluses most commonly form on the feet and sometimes on the hands or knees, or anywhere there is repeated friction, including on the violinist's chin. Calluses have several variants. The common callus usually occurs when there's been a lot of rubbing against the hands or feet. The plantar callus is found on the bottom of the foot. The hereditary callus is found on the soles or palms. All are larger than corns - up to an inch in diameter - and lack the corn's telltale center. A callus is usually not painful. When it becomes painful, treatment is required.
Corns are often small cone-shaped areas of skin overgrowth that most often form on or between the toes and the balls of the feet. They can be either soft or hard. A soft corn has a much thinner surface than hard corns and if they form between the toes, the moisture of the area keeps them soft. A hard corn has a small patch of thickened, dead skin with a packed center that form on top of the toes. A seed corn, the least common type, is a patch of stiff skin around a tiny plug of cholesterol. Seed corns occur only on the bottom of the feet, often because of a condition caused by lack of perspiration.
These growths can cause inflammation and pain. Corns especially may ache and be tender to the touch. Both corns and calluses usually form in response to repeated friction or pressure, such as from wearing ill-fitting shoes or performing certain tasks repeatedly. Other factors that may be involved include staphylococcus or streptococcus-type infection, misalignment of the foot, and an acid/alkaline imbalance in the body. The heavy consumption of fats, sugars, and highly processed foods is the most common cause of imbalance in the acidity and alkalinity of the body.
FREQUENT SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
A hard corn is a compact patch of hard skin with a dense core, located on the top of a toe, the outside of the little toe, or the bottom of the foot.
A soft corn is a reddened, tender area of skin up to one-half inch in diameter. It has a thin, smooth center. It's found on the side of a toe.
A seed corn is a plug-like circle of dead skin on the heal or ball of the foot.
A callus is a patch of compact, dead skin up to an inch wide on the bottoms of the feet, the palms of the hands, or any area subject to friction.
A plantar callus is compact dead skin up to an inch wide on the bottom of the foot, with a distinctive white center.
A hereditary callus is an area of dead skin up to an inch wide occurring where there is no apparent friction or pressure, such as on the bottom of the foot or the palm of the hand. This condition runs in families and is usually seen in children.
Having a hammertoe or mallet toe may lead to a more severe form of callus called intractable plantar keratosis (IPK). This callus forms as a result of a serious imbalance in weight-bearing, with considerably more pressure being placed on one are of the foot than on others.
Some corns and calluses on the feet develop from improper walking motion, but most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. High-heeled shoes are the worst offenders. They put pressure on the toes and make women 4 times as likely as men to have foot problems.
Either rubbing or pressure can cause soft corns and plantar calluses. If your child develops a callus that has no clear source of pressure, it is probably a genetically determined hereditary callus. Feet spend most of their time in a closed, moist environment ideal for breeding bacteria. Staph infections can start when bacteria enter corns through breaks in the skin and cause the infected corn to give off fluid or pus.
To find out whether a hard patch of skin is a callus or a wart, your health care provider will scrape some skin off the affected area. Warts bleed, but calluses just reveal more dead skin. The distinction is useful because warts are viral and resist treatment. Most calluses are easily correctable. Hereditary calluses can be more difficult to correct.
Most corns and calluses gradually disappear when the friction or pressure stops. To avoid corns and calluses on the feet, wear correctly fitted shoes.
Medicated pads are available as over-the-counter salicylic-acid corn and callus remedies. Most of these products are fairly aggressive so most foot health care providers discourage their use. Applied improperly, corn plasters can kill healthy tissue around the corn and may provoke an allergic reaction. Properly positioned moleskin pads can help relieve pressure on a corn.
A health care provider will often shave the top of a callus to reduce thickness. Over-the- counter callus razor blades can be used at home, but take special care that you do not cut or break the skin under or around a callus if these are used. This is very painful and will invite infection. The best time to use this remedy is immediately after a hot bath, shower, or foot soaking when the callus is soft and easier to shave off. However, it is recommended that you never use a knife of any sharp instrument to cut the hardened area away, especially if you have diabetes or any other circulatory problem. Have this done by a foot specialist instead.
Hydrocortisone creams may help to remove cracked calluses. Apply the cream and cover the area overnight with a plastic bag or a sock. In the morning, rub off as much of the callus as you can with a coarse towel or brush. Use a pumice stone to rub the dead skin from a callus after showering, then applying a urea-based cream, can also be effective. Do not try this with corns! Rubbing will just make them more tender and painful.
Compresses made from hot Epsom Salts or FooTherapy solution from Para Laboratories/ Queen Helene are good.
Oral antibiotics generally clear up infected corns, but sometimes pus has to be drained through an incision. Over-the-counter antibacterial ointments don't work on infected corns, because most staph bacteria are resistant to them.
Surgery may be considered to remove a plantar callus, but it is likely to come back anyway. A better approach is to keep your feet dry and friction free. Wear properly fitted shoes and cotton socks, not wool or synthetic fibers that might irritate the skin. If a health care provider (podiatrist or orthopedist) thinks your corn or callus is caused by abnormal foot placement or hip rotation, orthopedic shoes may help correct the problem.
If you want to prevent corns and calluses, have both feet professionally measured and buy only properly fitting shoes. Be sure the width is correct. Allow up to half an inch between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Avoid pointed shoes and high heels. Women who wear stylish shoes at work can take some of the pressure off their feet by walking to and from the office in correctly fitted athletic shoes.
Have your shoes repaired regularly. Worn shoes give little protection from the shock of walking on hard surfaces, and worn linings can chafe the skin and harbor bacteria. Worn heels increase uneven pressure on the heel bone, which supports 25% of your weight. If the soles or heels of your shoes tend to wear unevenly, see an orthopedist about corrective shoes or insoles.
HERBAL & HOLISTIC RECOMMENDATIONS
Use alternate applications of alcohol-free Goldenseal Extract and Tea Tree Oil to keep down infection and speed healing.
See Corn & Calluses Supplements & Products for more helpful natural product suggestions.
Consume raw vegetables and juices for 3 days to aid in balancing the acidity/alkalinity of your system. Unemboshi (Japanese salt plum) can quickly balance the body's pH. These are available in health food stores and Asian markets. Take one every 3 hours for 2 days.
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Alkalosis
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Acidosis
Avoid fried foods, meats, caffeine, sugar, and highly processed foods.
An insufficiency of vitamin A, E or potassium may encourage corns and calluses. Increasing the proportion of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the diet may prevent their formation or recurrence. Bananas and carrots are especially beneficial.
Bread and Vinegar folk remedy can be used to remove stubborn corns. Crumb bread into a teaspoon of vinegar. Let stand 30 minutes to make a paste, then apply on the corn before retiring at night. Repeat each night until the soreness has gone and the corn can be lifted out.
To treat corns and calluses, soften the thickened skin by adding 2 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap (available in health food stores) or a mild dish soap to 1/2 gallon of warm water. Soak your feet in this mixture for 15 minutes. Afterwards, dry your feet with a soft towel and rub a couple of drops of vitamin E oil into the affected area. Then, using a pumice stone or a special callus file, gently file down the top layer of the corn or callus. Clean the area with mild soap and water, using a gauze pad or cotton ball. Do this twice a day. Wear clean white cotton socks after treatment.
Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Dr. Bronner's Lavender Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Dr. Bronner's Almond Organic Liquid Castile Soap, 32 oz.
Apply a non-medicated corn pad (a small round or oval-shaped foam pad with a hole in the center) around a corn to help relieve the pressure. Stretch the pad so that it clears the corn by at least 1/8 inch on all sides. Then apply Vitamin E Oil to the corn, cover with a gauze square, and wrap the toe with adhesive tape. Alternate between using vitamin E oil and Tea Tree Oil.
For corns between the toes, dab on Vitamin E Oil and place a clean piece of cotton or cotton ball over it. Make sure to use 100% cotton, not synthetic cosmetic puffs. Put on clean white cotton socks and leave them on overnight after treatment. Vitamin E oil mixed with a crushed garlic clove is good for softening corns or calluses.
Bathe your feet daily in a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water. Dry them thoroughly and apply pure, unprocessed oil, such as olive oil, to the infected area. Or soak your feet in a solution of 2 teaspoons of salt in a pint of warm water for 10 minutes. Repeat this treatment daily until the condition clears up.
To ease pain and itching, use cold compresses. Soak a white cotton cloth in Burow's solution (available in drugstores) dissolved in 1 pint of cold water. Apply compresses several times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time.
Take care to protect your feet from direct contact with floors in communal areas such as locker rooms. Wear shoes or slippers in such places. Do not share towels, shoes, socks, or anything else that comes into contact with the feet.
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Athlete's Foot
To soften corns and calluses, and relieve pain soak the feet in comfortably hot water. Dry thoroughly, then rub with fresh lemon juice, or soak the feet in hot water in which oatmeal has been boiled, or, to a basin of hot water add as much salt as will dissolve. Soak the feet in this solution, then in plain hot water.
Secure a slice of raw garlic to the corn each night.
To soften and eventually loosen a corn, place the pulp side of a small piece of lemon over the corn each night and bandage to keep in place or, thrust the toe into a lemon and tie in place overnight.
To remove a corn, place 2 tablespoons of dry mustard in a basin, stir in enough hot water to cover the corn. Soak the foot, then rub the corn. If not loose enough to be lifted out, applying vinegar may speed the procedure.
To remove stubborn corns in 3 weeks, tape a piece of raw onion over it each night.
CORN & CALLUS SUPPLEMENTS & PRODUCTS
Information, supplements and products for treating corns and calluses.
Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme, 4 oz. Tube
Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme is a delightful blend of super-saturated coconut and olive oil, scented with a refreshing hint of peppermint.
Burt's Bees Foot Care Kit (Foot Creme, Pumice Stone & Sock)
Burt's Bee's Foot Care kit contains all you need to treat your feet. The kit contains Coconut Foot Creme, exfoliating Pumice Stone, and Burt's Bees Socks. Treat yourself or someone else.
Burt's Bees Head To Toe Starter Kit
You'll love Burt's Bee's special selection of sample size cremes and cleansers, lotions and balms, everything you need to cleanse, moisturize and pamper yourself from head to toe, naturally.
Goldenseal Herb, Nature's Way, 400 mg, 180 Caps
Goldenseal herb (hydrastis canadensis), a perennial wild native American herb, is also called Yellow Root. Native Americans used Goldenseal both internally and externally and also derived a dye from the root. Golden Seal is a very important traditional herb.
Kalladerm, Heartland Natural Skin Cream For Calloused Skin, 2 oz.
Kalladerm, Heartland Natural Skin Cream helps eliminate callouses and corns. It is also great for dry cracked feet.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) Lotion, 15%, 8 fl. oz.
MSM Lotion contains Methylsulfonylmethane, a form of sulfur, which may be helpful in treating skin disorders including acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, dandruff, scabies, diaper rash, and certain fungal infections.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) Supplement, Pure Lignisul With Free 4 oz. Lotion, 1000 mg, 120 Caps
Buy MSM Supplement caps and get a free 4 oz. lotion. MSM supplement plays a beneficial role in connective tissue and joint flexibility, immune health, arthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, pain, hair, skin, nails, athletic injuries, acne, wrinkles and allergies.
NutriBiotic Skin Ointment With Grapefruit Seed Extract & Lysine, 0.5 oz.
NutriBiotic Skin Ointment with GSE can be used topically for such things as scrapes, scratches and cuts. NutriBiotic Skin Ointment with GSE can also be used on the lips and in the mouth on cold sores and canker sores.
NutriBiotic Body & Foot Powder With Grapefruit Seed Extract, All Natural, 4 oz.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Body and Foot Powder is actually a multi-purpose product. It is extremely pure and mild and therefore may be used all over the body on adults as well as children.
Peppermint Foot Lotion, Burt's Bees, 3.38 oz.
This wonderfully natural formula combines pure Peppermint oil, Parsley Leaf oil, and Menthol to soothe and calm tired feet. Sunflower, Wheat germ, and Coconut oils soften, while emollient Beeswax and Vitamin E protect feet against rough calluses and heels. It's the perfect pampering spa treatment for the feet.
Vitamin E Oil, D-Alpha, Vegetarian, 100% Natural, NOW Foods, 32,000 IU, 1 oz.
This vitamin E oil may be used as a dietary supplement or applied to the skin for cosmetic or other purposes.
HerbalRemedies: Corns / Calluses Information
HerbalRemedies: Corns / Calluses Supplements & Products
HerbalRemedies: Bone Spur / Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis Information
HerbalRemedies: Bone Spur Supplements, Information & Products
NOTIFY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF...
You cut a corn or callus. The break in the skin invites infection.
You experience increasing pain and swelling, fever.
A corn has a spreading redness around the sore, discharges pus or clear fluid. This means it is infected or ulcerated. Both conditions require medical attention.
You notice a change in color of fingers or toes or signs of gangrene (tissue decay).
You develop a corn and you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or other circulatory problems. You run the risk of developing an infection.
HELPFUL RELATED LINKS
Dr. Ken's Advice on Corns & Calluses
Self Care Article on Corns & Calluses
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HELPFUL PRODUCTS & FURTHER EDUCATION
Prescription for Nutritional Healing: The A-To-Z Guide To Supplements
-- by Phyllis A. Balch, James F. Balch - 2nd Edition
Prescription for Nutritional Healing: The A-To-Z Guide To Supplements
-- by Phyllis A. Balch, James F. Balch - 4th Edition
Prescription for Herbal Healing: The A-To-Z Reference To Common Disorders
-- by Phyllis A. Balch
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing
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