Podiatry and Treating Corns

Podiatrists are responsible for virtually every aspect of foot care, and one of these is dealing with corns, bunions, and calluses that form on our feet. Considering the fact that we spend our entire lives walking, jogging, and running on our feet, it is not surprising that they can sometimes suffer under the burden of so much use. Corns are growths occur as a result of the stress we put our feet through every day, and in this article we look at what corns are and how podiatrists can treat the condition.

What are corns?

Corns grow on most everyone’s feet, although in many cases they pass largely unnoticed. Despite being a relatively common place type of growth, corns can cause some more severe and lasting damage to the foot.

A corn is essentially a collection of hardened, dead skin that has a particular shape. It is a type of callus, distinctive because of its shape, and the fact that it usually affects hairless and otherwise smooth skinned parts of the foot.

Corns form as a result of repeated rubbing motions against rougher surfaces, usually poorly fitted or poor quality shoes. The distinctive shape of a corn comes from the nature of the pressure, or how it is applied. Essentially the point of contact with the foot, usually part of a shoe, rubs against the skin in an oval-shaped or elliptical manner, the centre of this oval or ellipses is the point of most pressure. This is what is responsible for the distinctive shape of a corn, which actually exacerbates the condition as when the corn forms, its raised top is vulnerable to more pressure and injury. Over time this can cause deeper and more lasting tissue damage and even the formation of more harmful ulcers.

Corns are referred to medically as helomatas, and can either be soft or hard. The former are referred to as heloma durum, while the latter are known as heloma molle. Harder corns are more likely to occur on flat surfaces of the foot, while softer corns usually form between the toes where the skin is more moist.

How do podiatrists treat corns?

Podiatry offers the most effective and safest methods of dealing with corns. Many over the counter products tend to contain substances designed to chemically remove corns, these can have unfortunate side effects when they come into contact with healthy skin, ultimately leading to infections or ulcers.

A podiatrist can also more accurately diagnose a corn, as these can often be mistaken for calluses or some other affliction of the foot. Each condition carries with it its own unique method of treatment, and as such it is important that a correct an accurate diagnosis is made.

Podiatrists can approach corns in a number of different ways, each depending on the severity of the corn, its type, and location on the foot. In most cases treatment will involve paring down the corn using specially designed and sterilized tools like scalpels. It is important that you don’t try to perform a paring yourself as any accidental injury can severely damage the foot and leave it vulnerable to infection. Sometimes a pumice stone can be used, and your podiatrist might advise you to regularly rub at the corn after immersion in warm water with the stone.

An important part of the podiatric treatment of corns is addressing their cause. Even if a corn is effectively removed, wearing the same shoe and exposing your foot to the same injury causing pressure will just result in another corn. Your podiatrist can assess your footwear and make recommendations as to how you can adjust it, often through the use of personalized shoe inserts, to prevent corns from forming in the future.

Your podiatrist will also advise you on regular foot care and hygiene to ensure that the treated area does not suffer infection. Furthermore you will be given accurate instruction on how to spot corns during their early stages and take measures to prevent their development.

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