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Corns are small mounds of dead skin that form near pressure points on the toes. Corns are essentially a type of highly concentrated callus. They are caused by friction and pressure; namely, from skin being pressed against bony areas or rubbed against shoes.

Corns have a hard, dense core that can press on tissue and sensitive nerves, causing severe pain. The best way to treat persistent corns is to address the cause of the pressure on the toes. Padding, ointments, and medicated pads can then be used to soften the corn and reduce pain.

Causes of corns

There are two types of corns: hard corns and soft corns. Hard corns are firm and dry; they tend to form on the upper surface of toes and are caused by pressure, usually from ill-fitting shoes. Soft corns are pliable and moist; they usually form between the fourth and fifth toes. Wearing shoes with a narrow toe box can cause toes to rub together, producing soft corns between the toes. People with arthritis and toe deformities like hammertoes are at a higher risk of developing corns.

Corn symptoms

Corns can be white, grey, or yellow. They resemble a cone-shaped growth pointing down into the skin. Hard corns appear thick and dry; they are usually located on the outer surface of the little toe or any pressure point where the skin rubs against shoes. Soft corns are usually light in color. They form between the toes and are kept soft due to moisture.

Corns may be painful and sensitive to the touch, especially if they are pressing down on nerves beneath the skin.

Corn treatment

To remove a corn, it is essential to treat the corn itself as well as address the underlying cause. One of the first things a podiatrist will recommend is a change in footwear. By avoiding high heels and other shoes with narrow toe boxes, it is possible to prevent corns from recurring.

Over-the-counter solutions are available to reduce pain from corns. Padding, or corn pads, can reduce friction on pressure points. Ointments and medicated pads can be used to soften corns and keep skin in good condition. People with diabetes or circulatory disease should never try to remove a corn on their own, the risk of infection is simply too high. Persistent corns should be treated by a doctor.

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