When we walk or stand, our body weight is carried first on the heel and then on the ball of the foot, where the skin is thicker, to withstand the pressure. When this pressure becomes intense, growths, in the form of corns and callus, may appear. Corns always occur over a bony prominence, such as a joint.
Heloma durum are the most common form of corn and appear as small, concentrated areas of hard skin. Their conically shape intensifies the pressure at the tip and can cause painful deep tissue damage and ulceration.
Heloma molle develop in a similar way to hard corns. They are whitish and softer in texture, and appear between toes, where the skin is moist from sweat, or from inadequate drying. A Podiatrist will be able to reduce the bulk of the corn, and apply astringents to cut down on sweat retention between the toes.
Heloma miliare are particularly small and tend to be less painful.
Heloma neurovasculare corns incorporate minute blood vessels and fine nerve endings, are likely to bleed when they are cut and can be very painful.
These arise from corns that have been present for a long time. They appear to be more firmly attached to the deeper tissues than other corns. They may also be painful.
Do not cut corns yourself, especially if you are elderly or diabetic, and do not use corn plasters or paints which can burn the healthy tissue around the corns. Home remedies, such as lambswool around toes, are potentially dangerous. Commercially available ‘cures’ should be used only following professional advice.
When weight-bearing our body weight is typically carried on the heel and the ball of the foot. The skin is thicker in these areas, with additional padding between the skin and the bones to help withstand the pressure. A callus, or callosity, is an extended area of thickened skin, and occurs on areas of excessive pressure. Most calluses are symptoms of an underlying problem such as a bony deformity, a particular style of walking, or inappropriate footwear.
Some people have a natural tendency to form callus because of their skin type. Elderly people have less fatty tissue in their skin and this can lead to callus forming.
If the callus is painful, a Podiatrist will be able to advise you as to why this has occurred and, where possible, how to prevent it happening again. The Podiatrist can also remove hard skin, relieve pain, and redistribute pressure with soft padding, strapping, or corrective appliances which fit easily into your shoes. The skin should then return to its normal state.
The elderly can benefit from padding to the ball of the foot, to compensate for any loss of natural padding. Emollient creams delay callus building up, and help improve the skin’s natural elasticity.