Foot corns, the irritating bumps that can appear on the sides of your toes, at the foot sole and in between toes, are the result of friction. Foot corns are your body's response to the pressure and irritation your shoes cause as they rub against your feet.
There are two types of foot corns: hard corns and soft corns.
- A hard corn is most commonly located on the fifth toe and is hard to the touch. Occasionally, a hard corn may appear on other toes.
- A soft corn typically shows up between the fourth and fifth toes.
Foot corns can be painful and aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing, but a foot corn does provide protection against contact with an offending surface – usually an ill-fitting shoe. Women, who often wear poorly fitting shoes in the name of fashion, develop corns more often than men.
Major culprits of foot corns include:
- Shoes with narrow toe boxes, especially women's dress shoes
- Increased moisture trapped between toes
- Toe friction inside shoes or socks
- Pressure of high-heeled shoes
Foot corns, thickened patches of dead skin that commonly emerge on toe knuckles – especially the pinky toe – are concentrated and feel much harder than the surrounding skin.
You can recognize a corn by asking the following questions:
- Do you have a small patch of excess skin on a toe?
- Is there an area on your toe that feels hard?
- Do any patches of skin on your feet seem higher than the smooth skin surface?
Tips for avoiding foot corns:
- Start wearing properly fitted shoes.
- Stop wearing shoes that inflict pressure or irritation.
- Women: Limit the length of time you wear high heels, or stop wearing them altogether.
- Use insoles and inserts in your shoes to combat pressure points and rubbing.
If you already have a corn, try trimming down excess skin with pedicure files, or applying softening cream to help eliminate discomfort. Also try wearing shoes with a wider toe box to decrease the pressure inflicted on current foot corns.
Although foot corns do not present a long-term or serious health risk, they can be very painful. If changing your shoes and other treatments do not alleviate symptoms, you may want to see a podiatrist for additional treatment.
Information on foot, leg and lower body health conditions provided by The Podiatry Institute, dedicated to advancing the standard of care in podiatric medicine and its effects on muscoskeletal health.