Corn are one of the main reasons people get in touch with their local chiropodists. They often cause great pain and discomfort for those affected. Corns when they form have a circular hard centre (nucleus) usually surrounded with an area of thickened hard skin, this may appear as yellow or white mostly occurring near or over a bony prominence. Corns can appear anywhere on the foot. But more commonly they are found on the ball of the foot, between the toes on tops of toes. When weight is applied through walking they can cause excruciating pain. People often complain that their feet ache or that they feel like they are walking on a stone.

What causes a corn

Corns are usually caused by abnormal pressure/ friction on the foot or repetitive trauma or constant trauma. This abnormal pressure produces hard skin (callus) on a concentrated or specific area and over time the hard skin becomes organised and forms into a central hard area or corn. Sometimes corns form due to a structural abnormality of the foot or poor foot function when walking, causing excessive pressure and friction when weight bearing or walking. Poorly fitting or tight non supportive constrictive footwear is often a major causative factor with corns.

Types of corn/ what do they look like

There are generally three types of corns, Hard Corns, Seed Corns and Soft Corns. All cause pain and discomfort for people who suffer from them. The good news is that, with regular routine treatments even the most painful and problematic corns can become manageable and sometimes a corn can be treated and may never come back again.

Hard Corns

Hard Corns appear as small concentrated areas of firm hard skin and can vary in size. They are often located within an area of thickened (yellowish) skin or callus. As the name suggests they are incredibly hard. They usually occur over a bony structure (prominence) or on the top of toes. They appear as hard round masses of thickened concentrated skin and are usually very painful under direct pressure, when weight bearing, walking or wearing tight fitting shoes.

Seed Corns

Seed corns are small structures (corns) of concentrated firm hard skin, often occurring in clusters on the ball of the foot. They are described as looking like little ‘seeds’ within an area of hard skin/callus. Text books often state that seed corns are not usually related to direct pressure; more that dry skin is the cause. In reality it is probably a combination of factors, dry skin, pressure and friction. In any case they may cause the patient concern and pain on weight bearing.

Soft Corns

Soft corns are slightly difference in texture and appearance. Usually occurring between the toes. These corns appear appear as white and rubbery, and are extremely uncomfortable for the patient especially when toes rub together. The causes are usually pressure related, are linked to poor footwear (tight toe box), possible structural foot deformity (Bunions, Hammer toes etc), or moist sweaty feet, causes by inadequate drying of the feet.