How to treat corns on feet: Home and medical remedies

Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 20, 2020

Corns are thick, hardened areas of skin that generally show up as bumps on the feet and in between the toes. Corns are not dangerous and, in fact, are your body’s response to pressure and friction. Although corns are very common, they can cause irritation and may be sensitive and painful too. So, when you experience a corn on the foot, rather than ignore it, it is best to pursue corn treatment.

Luckily, corns aren’t just generally self-diagnosable, they are usually self-treatable too. A pumice stone, warm water, and corn pads may just do the trick for you. Since corns arise due to pressure and friction, alongside home remedies, efforts to prevent corns on feet may be the way to put your best foot forward.

Here is what you need to know about foot corn treatment and causes.

What is a corn?

In scientific terminology a corn goes by the name heloma. Corns are thickened layers of skin that generally develop on the feet. However, a corn is different from a callus. A callus is more diffused, while a corn on the foot has a more defined area and is generally harder and more painful too.

Corns are of 3 types:

Hard corns
  • Layers of hard skin with a limited focal area and dense centre
  • Usually develop on flat, dry areas such as the tips and sides of toes
Soft corns
  • Greyish and rubbery in appearance and texture, and commonly found in between the toes
  • They remain soft because of the moisture they are exposed to
Seed corns
  • Tiny in size but can be very painful
  • Commonly show up on weight-bearing areas such as the underside of the feet

Corns on feet may appear in areas such as:

  • The tips, tops, and sides of toes
  • In between the toes
  • On the bottom of the foot
  • Under toenails

In short, a corn in leg can appear wherever there is pressure and friction. For this reason, corns are commonly found in athletes and women who wear footwear with unequal pressure points.

Ways to prevent corns on feet

Corns are not a form of skin disease. They are just the way your skin reacts to pressure and friction over a period of time. Hence tactics like avoiding high-heeled shoes or wearing socks work aim at reducing the source of friction.

Here are a few tips to prevent corns on feet:

  • Wear shoes that fit well: Finding shoes that do not cause friction against your skin is a way to avoid corns. Pick something that isn’t too loose or tight. Experts suggest that one way to buy the right shoes is to shop for them in person at the end of the day, when your feet may be more swollen.
  • Cut your toenails: Long toenails can cause pressure between your toes and your shoes, eventually leading to corns.
  • Use socks and padding: Socks, corn pads, bandages and in-soles work towards reducing pressure and friction. So, you can use them to prevent corns.
  • Keep your feet clean: Regular cleansing and scrubbing can reduce the build-up of dead skin cells and hence, the formation of corns. Soap, water, a scrub brush, and a moisturiser to reduce friction will work well.

DIY corn treatment techniques

Here are some home remedies you can try to address corns.

Slough away with a pumice stone: The preliminary step here is to soak the corn in warm water for 10-15 minutes. This is so that the skin softens. Then, use a pumice stone, which a porous piece of volcanic rock, to file layers of dead skin. In case the corn is in between the toes, you can use a nail file or emery board instead. You can repeat this process for a few weeks, until the corn disappears. However, be on guard against over-filing, which can cause irritation, bleeding, and infection.

Soften the skin with salicylic acid: You can purchase OTC products like lotions and moisturisers that contain salicylic acid to treat corns. These products can be applied to the corn directly. The salicylic acid in these creams helps break down the skin cells of the corn. You can even consider corn pads containing salicylic acid. The salicylic acid makes the skin easier to scrape and, once again, you can use a pumice stone for the purpose. Your corn may disappear within 14 days. Keep in mind that the use of salicylic acid, however, can harm healthy areas of the foot and cause irritation and burning. Hence, you should take this route under advice of a doctor.

Corn removal with a doctor

Experts recommend that cutting or shaving of a corn be reserved for doctors only. This is because you risk developing an infection, should the corn cutting go wrong. Doctors may use a scalpel to remove dead skin or may even apply a laser to treat the corn. Surgical treatment of corns is possible and may be necessary in case a corn is pressing against a nerve or if the corns are arising due to a problem of bone structure.

During your visit to the doctor, you may discuss normal methods like scraping, padding and shoe inserts to remove or reduce corns. Your doctor will also recommend whether you can use products containing salicylic acid, urea, hydrocolloid, and silver nitrate.

Should you see a doctor for a corn on foot?

You should see a doctor when the corn becomes large in size, painful, sensitive or when regular home remedies do not work. Pus formation is another sign that you need to see the doctor. Keep in mind that diseases like diabetes and peripheral arterial disease can cause foot problems and so, if there is any circulatory issue you are dealing with, it is best to contact a doctor before you set out on adopting home treatments. You should take a similar approach if you have fragile skin.

With a doctor on your side, corn treatment shouldn’t usually pose a hassle and your corns should disappear in time. Involving a doctor in your decisions becomes easy when you have the Bajaj Finserv Health app. It lets you search for relevant doctors in your vicinity, book appointments online, consult via video, store your health records digitally, keep track of your medication and so much more. The Bajaj Finserv Health app is free to download, so begin this process by getting it from Google Play or the Apple App Store today!