Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
In our last article, we discussed the differences between corns, calluses, and warts. In today’s article, we’ll talk about various treatment options for corns and calluses, followed by wart treatments in the next article. So, keep reading to learn more!
How do I treat my corns and calluses?
1. Proper fitting shoes
One of the first things you can do is to ensure your footwear fits properly. This is especially important in women, as they’re four times more likely than men to develop foot problems. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your shoes fit properly:
- Wear shoes that are appropriate for the type of activity.
- Purchase shoes at the end of the day, if possible, since this is when feet are the most swollen.
- Walk around to check for tightness or rubbing within the shoes before purchasing them.
- If you plan on wearing orthotics, make sure to wear them while you’re fitting your new shoes.
- Allow one-half inch (1.25 cm) between the end of the shoe and the longest toe.
- The first MTP joint (located at the base of the big toe) should be in the widest part of the shoe’s toe box.
- New shoes should be worn for approximately half an hour each day initially to gradually break them in.
In addition to the above tips, here are some desirable characteristics of footwear. Shoes should:
- Be fastened with buckles, laces, or velcro (slip-on shoes should be avoided due to slipping of the foot inside the shoe) and be made from canvas or leather (to allow for flexibility).
- Have a wide toe box (not pointed) to prevent toe crowding.
- Have heels lower than 1.5 inches (3.75 cm) to prevent forward pressure and crowding of the toes.
- Be lightweight and flexible under the balls of the feet with shock-absorbing, cushioned soles.
2. Orthotic devices and footcare products
You could insert orthotic devices in your shoes to ensure arch support and to distribute body-weight more evenly. Products such as cushions, felt pads, and foams can be used to protect a corn or callus from pressure or friction.
3. Medical treatment
Along with making changes to your footwear, you can also use some over-the-counter (OTC) products to remove corns or calluses.
Salicylic acid in concentrations of 12–40% may be used to hasten the process of removing corns or calluses. There are multiple dosage forms available, such as plasters, pads, and liquid formulations. Since salicylic acid can damage the normal skin, it’s important to avoid applying the product outside the edge of the corn or callus. For liquid preparations, you could apply vaseline on normal skin to protect it from salicylic acid.
Within 10-14 days after starting a treating with a salicylic acid containing product, you should start to notice some improvements. Make sure to inspect the affected area 2-3 times a week until it’s completely healed. If there is no improvement or noticed inflammation, pus, or redness, make sure to go see a healthcare provider for further assessment. If your normal skin around the lesion is damaged, make sure to stop using salicylic containing products until the normal skin is healed.
You could also debride a corn or callus using a pumice stone after soaking the area in warm water, with or without sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), for about 10 minutes. Castor, olive, sesame seed, or wheat germ oils can be applied to the affected area to soften corns or calluses prior to debridement. A foot file (e.g. emery board) can be used on a dry foot.
If all of the above recommendations fail to relieve the pain and discomfort, you can speak with your healthcare provider to discuss surgical options.
In addition to what was mentioned above, it’s important for individuals with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes, to AVOID self-treating corns or calluses. These individuals should have their feet examined at least annually by a healthcare provider whose expertise is in foot care.
As always, we hope you took away something valuable from this piece. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article or others, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or at email@example.com with your feedback. We’d love to hear from you.