Skin Care

What are Corns?

Corns are growths called calluses that form on the toe, which form due to weak, but repeated pressure and friction. The terms corn and callus are often used interchangeably, and many are confused about exactly what each refers to. Simply, corns are specific types of calluses that form on the toe. A callus on the other hand, can form anywhere where there is skin and repeated friction.

For a more full treatment of calluses, visit the calluses site.

Why do corns form?

Corns form on the toes in response to repeated friction, usually from wearing shoes that don't fit well. A corn is simply hardened dead skin. It forms as a protective layer of skin, when the body is exposed to repeated pressure, and can be considered a defence mechanism.

Thus, athletes and musicians will often have corns and calluses, where there is consistent grinding of the hands or feet. Corns are also common among teenagers as they can very quickly outgrow their footwear, causing friction. However, if the pressure is too sudden or too severe, the skin will blister before forming the protective callus or corn.

How do I identify corns?

Corns have very distinct appearances, and do not resemble other skin problems so usually there is little difficulty identifying them. Below are some classic characteristics of corns:

  • Corns are calluses that form on the toes
  • They often form on the pinky toe on top of the arch where pressure is greatest
  • They are generally white or yellow in color, but can be darker
  • Corns can be painful, but just as often are not sources of pain
  • Will heal naturally when the source of pressure is removed for a long time
  • There are hard and soft corns. Hard corns are more common and occur on the dry parts of the feet. Soft corns tend to develop between the toes due to rubbing between the toes.
  • More common in diabetics, and in these cases, patients should seek medical attention

Corn Facts:

  • Corns are not a skin disease-they are not caused by bacteria, virus, or fungus
  • Corns and calluses are the result of the body`s defence mechanism to protect areas that are under constant physical stress
  • Corns and calluses are not dangerous, and generally do not need any treatment unless it becomes painful or cosmetically unacceptable.

The exception is diabetes patients, who may have complications with bleeding.

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