Corns and calluses occur when the top layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum, thickens over boney prominences. Thickened skin that occurs on the top of the toes is referred to as a corn, while thickened skin on the bottom of the foot is referred to as a callus. Thickening of the skin, regardless of its location, can indicate structural issues in the foot that need to be addressed. If neglected or untreated, corns and calluses can lead to ulcerations, or holes in the skin, revealing muscles, tendons and bone that are normally protected by the skin.
Conservative treatment of both corns and calluses is usually centered around avoiding pressure by perhaps wearing wider, taller shoes or making a special insole for the foot to de-weight and shift away pressure points and eliminate the risks associated with an ulceration. Over the counter acid removers are not recommended as they can lead to ulcerations and bone infections. Other conservative treatment can consist of visiting a podiatrist on a regular basis to have areas of thick skin pared down, or debrided. This often provides significant relief and is a good treatment option for those that cannot have or do not want surgery.
Corns can also be addressed from a surgical standpoint in which a small piece of bone is removed from the toe at the joint level or the joint may be replaced to straighten the toe and eliminate pressure points that cause corns and ulcerations all together. After surgery the toe is not as tall and fits inside of shoe gear better providing better comfort and minimizing the risk of infection and ulceration.