Corns: Causes and Prevention

Corns are small areas of skin that occur on the toes as a result of excessive pressure or friction from footwear or socks. There are two types; hard and soft, and they can cause some pain and discomfort. 

The difference between hard and soft corns

Apart from the obvious difference between them in being hard and soft, there is also a difference as to where they occur. Hard corns tend to occur on the tops, tips and sides of toes and have a core that presses on nerve endings, which can cause pain. Soft corns tend to occur between the toes, and stay soft due to the heat and moisture in this area. Despite them being soft, they can also be painful.

How corns are caused

There are several possible causes as to why corns develop, but the most common cause is ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too loose can let your foot slide and rub (causing friction), whilst other shoes may place excessive pressure on different areas of the foot (for example high-heeled shoes which can squeeze the toes).

Abnormal walking patterns, standing for long periods, or repetitive activities using your feet (such as in sports) can also be causes because of the pressure that is put on the foot.

Corns are more common in older people, because the skin gets thinner with age so there is less padding on the soles of our feet, making them more likely to develop. Corns also often occur on bony feet, because of the lack of natural cushioning.

On occasions, corns may be a symptom of another foot problem. For instance, they can appear as a symptom of bunions, or hammer toe.

How can corns be prevented?

Corns can be prevented by wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly and don’t rub and cause friction.

It is also important to ensure that your feet are completely dry before putting on any shoes. Having wet, or even slightly damp, skin greatly increases friction. This means that any slight rubbing that may happen within your shoes will be greatly amplified, keeping the pressure in one place. By making sure that your skin is completely dry, you can limit the amount of friction, and thus the amount of pressure.

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