Corns, Calluses & Bunions

Corns, Calluses & Bunions

Our hands and feet take a lot of abuse. We don't wear gloves for yard work; shoes don't fit well. The irritation causes skin to harden, or get flaky and dry - resulting in painful corns, calluses, and bunions. Over-the-counter products can help. If you have diabetes, don't ever ignore any signs of these irritations - as they can develop into very serious conditions. An infection or ulcer needs medical treatment.

Recently Answered

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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    During recovery from bunion surgery, you may have to wear a bandage and special shoe -- or possibly a cast in more severe cases. The special shoe or cast will protect your foot, allowing it to heal, while enabling you to walk on your heel. During recovery, your muscles and other soft tissues will atrophy, so after the postoperative shoe or cast is removed, you may have to do exercises to regain your strength and flexibility. It may take as long as six months to recover fully (to the point where you can do strenuous activities).
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    AJames Ioli, DPM, Podiatric Medicine, answered
    Surgery to correct a moderate to severe bunion will require you to stop driving for about six weeks. One study found that patients were able to drive safely six weeks following bunion surgery, indicating that they had low pain levels. The study, published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, also found that emergency brake time response in patients who underwent surgery was similar to that of healthy individuals just six weeks after the procedure. However, if the surgery is performed to correct a moderate to severe bunion on the right foot, you risk reinjuring your foot if you resume driving before the six-week mark, the study found.
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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    If you've already developed a bunion or bunionette, you can help alleviate the pain by padding the protuberance with felt or moleskin. Try a donut-shaped pad if your foot tends to turn too far inward when you walk. Another helpful aid is a shoe stretcher with a special plastic plug that can be placed in the shoe to stretch the bunion/bunionette area, thereby relieving the pressure on your foot at that point.
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    AJames Ioli, DPM, Podiatric Medicine, answered
    You may be able to prevent bunions and bunionettes from developing -- or keep them from getting worse -- by wearing shoes that provide sufficient room in the toe boxes. Look for shoes with blunt toes rather than pointy ones, and allow for about a quarter-inch to a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    Symptoms of corns and calluses include:
    • Hard, dead layer of skin
    • Pain
    • Hard, dead layer of skin, usually around the toes
    • Sometimes a dense knot of skin in the center of the hardened area
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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    These terms are often used interchangeably. Both are regions of thickened skin from increased pressure. Some say that calluses usually form on the bottom of the feet; corns form on top, usually around the toes. Calluses may develop in response to pressure in an area that doesn't have natural fat pads for protection. Or they may develop in feet that have some type of structural aberration, such as high arches or tight muscles or tendons in the heel area, which put extra strain on a bone. In any event, calluses usually develop after prolonged wear and tear or rubbing against a shoe.

    Corns more often develop because of irritation caused by tight shoes. Calluses generally consist of a broad area of thickened skin; corns may have a dense knot of skin in the center, indicating where most of the pressure is. "Hard" corns generally develop on the top or sides of toes and "soft" corns in between toes.

    At first, you may not notice a corn or callus. But if whatever is causing the irritation continues, the corn or callus may become larger and cause discomfort and even pain. Corns tend to grow with time unless the pressure (such as a tight shoe) is removed. If the pressure continues, a corn may become painful and eventually interfere with walking.

    Corns and calluses are often painless, but those that form because of some structural problem, such as a hammertoe (a deformity that develops when tendons and ligaments in the toe contract, causing the toe to bend over and curl up - resembling a hammer) or a bone misalignment, can progress to the point of causing pain and interfering with your ability to walk. The area around both corns and calluses can also become discolored, turning brown, red, or black.
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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    In your 30s and 40s, your feet undergo age-related changes like the rest of your body. Muscles weaken; tendons and ligaments become less resilient. You lose some of your natural shock absorption. Although your feet may start to bother you by your mid-30s, it's generally in the 40s that real problems develop. Typically, you may begin to notice that your feet ache at the end of the day, especially the heels, arches, and balls of your feet.

    For some people, this may be the time that bunions or hammertoes begin to emerge. This is also the time when nail fungus becomes more common. Your feet become more susceptible to injury as well as to aches and pains. If your feet are otherwise healthy, your best strategy is to exercise. The right exercises will stretch and strengthen your muscles and keep tendons and ligaments supple.
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    The big toe often points inward toward the second toe as a result of a bunion. Bunions are usually caused by the positioning of the bones in the foot causing enlargement and re-positioning of the joint at the base of the big toe. The big toe begins to point inward toward the little toes. This may cause redness, swelling, and irritation. There are both non-surgical treatments (such as looser shoes) and surgical treatments to be explored. (This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program)
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    AHolman Chan, MD, Foot & Ankle Surgery, answered on behalf of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
    What Should I Think about if I Have Bunion Surgery?
    Bunion surgery can be painful, says Holman Chan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he describes various types of surgery for bunions and why they can be painful for the patient. 
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    AChristopher Chiodo, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
    Some people still experience residual symptoms of bunions after undergoing surgery, which makes sense considering that the procedure moves muscles, ligaments, and bones that have been accustomed to being in the same place for your entire life. Moving them to a new position can, in itself, cause pain in some people.