Corns and calluses are common foot ailments that can cause pain and discomfort when walking or participating in everyday activities.
There's not a lot of difference between the two except location: A callus is thickened skin on the bottom of the foot, while a corn is usually located at the top or end of a toe. You'll usually see them come up at pressure points.
The good news is that your podiatrist can quickly and easy remove these in his or her office. But that doesn't always do the trick, in the long term, because corns and calluses form when there's a pressure point rubbing against your foot. Maybe the cause is as simple as poor footwear, but often it's because of an underlying foot issue, like a hammertoe or misaligned toe.
Here are two ways to treat corns and calluses before you head into the foot doctor:
1. Gently - over time, if needed - remove the thick, dead skin.
There may be pain involved, so work gradually over the course of several days with a foot file or pumice stone to slowly remove skin. It may help to work on the corn or callus after soaking your feet.
After scraping off what you can, apply a softening or callus cream directly to the affected area. It'll be helpful if you can avoid wearing shoes after doing this; put on a pair of thick cotton socks and go to bed if you can schedule it. That will help to soften up the callus or corn even more.
2. Manage the pressure point issue with a supportive pad.
You can purchase metatarsal (or toe) pads over the counter to provide some relief. These small, thick pads cushion the area around the toe and help keep pressure from worsening the callus or corn. They may make it more difficult to wear some styles of footwear.
If corns on your toes are causing pain, you can find toe caps that will fit over the entire toe tip and provide cushioning.
Of course, if the issue is a misalignment, you may want to talk to your doctor about orthotics -- either custom or over-the-counter -- that can fit inside your shoes and help prevent pressure points by realigning your toe position.
One other treatment option is medicated corn pads. These can be irritating to the surrounding skin, so they are best avoided.
If neither of these work well for you, you'll need to work with your podiatrist, such as someone from Center for Foot Care, to remove the thickened skin and then determine a way to reduce the pressure to the affected point.