Corns vs Callus
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Calluses and corns are hardened, thick areas of skin that form in because of repeated pressure and friction. In medical terminology, this kind of condition is also known as hyperkeratosis.
Annoying as they may be, corns and calluses actually serve a purpose. They are the body’s way of protecting soft tissue that would have otherwise been bruised or wounded because of repeated pressure. This is the reason why people with thin skin or particularly bony toes are most at risk from developing them. They can also form on the fingers and the palms due to the use of musical instruments (e.g. guitar, violin), and heavy tools (e.g. axes, ropes). Most commonly, they are caused by poor-fitting shoes.
While some corns and calluses are harmless and will eventually go away on their own with minimal treatment, there is a chance that they might cause pain. They can be annoying and affect a person’s day-to-day life. In this case, it’s recommended to actively seek treatment by consulting with a doctor and/or using home remedies.
What is a callus?
Some use the terms corn and callus interchangeably, but in reality, these two are vastly different. While similar in nature (and are both forms of hyperkeratosis), they have specific characteristics that differentiate one from the other.
Calluses are areas on the outermost layer of skin that have thickened due to excessive rubbing, pressure, and fiction. You can find them bottom of the feet (in which case, they can be called plantar calluses), but they can also form on hands and any other area of the body that is continuously exposed to friction and/or pressure. They may appear grayish or yellowish and can feel bumpy to the touch. They can look like a hard, dry cracked area of the skin. Sever callus can split open and bleed and be very painful.
Calluses are differentiated from corns because they lack a “core” that corns have. The thickened skin is also more evenly distributed on the area and can cover a much larger area.
How do you treat a callus?
1. Moisturize the skin around the callus by soaking the foot or the affected part of the body in warm water for at least ten minutes. Once the skin has softened, gently file down the callus with a pumice stone or a metal foot file. Take care not to buff away too much skin, or you can cause a burning feeling, and the skin will be too sensitive. Severe callus should be taken down over a few weeks.
2. Apply lotion or moisturizer to the affected skin daily.
3. Use padding. There are moleskin cushioning pads that you can buy at your local drugstore or online that are used for this purpose.
4. Buy new shoes. Most corns on the foot are commonly borne from wearing ill-fitting shoes. Buy ones that are the right fit. Don’t choose shoes that are either too tight or too loose.
What is a corn?
A corn is differentiated from a callus by the presence of a “core” (shaped like a corn kernel, with a wide top and a pointed bottom, hence the name) at its center. They are more likely to cause pain than calluses. This is because the pressure is localized and concentrated on one single point on the foot. The intense pressure brought about by corns can cause tissue damage and even ulceration if left untreated.
How do you treat corns?
1. Minor corns are treated pretty much the same way as calluses (e.g. moisturizing the skin, filing the hardened skin away with a foot file, padding the affected area). It’s best to try these steps first before trying other remedies.
2. Applying salicylic acid (or using cushioning pads with salicylic acid on them called a corn plaster) is pretty effective at relieving pressure on the area and eroding the hardened skin.
3. You can go to a podiatrist and have the corn lesion pared away. This type of treatment offers almost instantaneous relief. It’s also better in the long run since this totally removes the core of the corn. Corns usually grow back if the center hasn’t been totally removed and/or the source of the pressure is still existing.
Corns and calluses can be mildly annoying, but it’s best to treat them early on. The unchecked growth of corns can be especially harmful. And as always, prevention is still better than cure. We hope that this helps differentiate corns vs callus.