Taking Charge of Your Health

Corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas
of skin that form as a result of friction or pressure on the skin. Corns and calluses develop naturally to protect
the skin underneath them. Calluses can develop anywhere on the body
where there is repeated friction, such as a mechanic’s
palms or a guitar player’s fingertips. Corns develop due to bone pressure against
the skin. They are common on the tops and sides of the
toes and on the balls of the feet. Corns can be hard and dry or soft and mushy. Common causes of corns are arthritis or poorly-fitting
shoes. To treat corns and calluses, follow these
tips from dermatologists: Soak the corn or callus in warm water. Do this for about five to 10 minutes or until
the skin softens. File the corn or callus with a pumice stone. First dip the pumice stone in warm water and
then use the stone to gently file the corn or callus. Use circular or sideways motions to remove
dead skin. While filing, be careful not to take off too
much skin, which can cause bleeding and infection. Apply cold packs to treat hard, painful corns. This will help reduce swelling and pain. Apply moisturizing lotion or cream to the
corn or callus daily. Look for a moisturizing lotion or cream with
salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea. These ingredients will help gradually soften
hard corns and calluses. Use padding. To protect calluses from further irritation
during activity, cut a piece of moleskin – available at your local drugstore – into two half-moon
shapes and place around the callus. To prevent a corn from making contact with
your shoe, surround the corn with donut-shaped adhesive pads, also available at drugstores. Wear shoes that properly fit. A common cause of corns is a shoe that isn’t
the right size and shape for your foot. To get the right fit, shop for shoes at the
end of the day, when your feet may be slightly swollen. In addition, ask a clerk to measure your foot,
and choose shoes that aren’t too loose or tight. Keep your toenails trimmed. Toenails that are too long can force the toes
to push up against your shoe, causing a corn to form over time. To remove this pressure, keep your toenails
trimmed. Most corns and calluses gradually go away
when the friction or pressure causing them stops. If you aren’t sure what is causing your
corn or callus, if the hardened skin is very painful, or if you have diabetes, see a board-certified
dermatologist or a podiatrist or orthopedist. To find a dermatologist in your area or learn
more about taking care of your skin, visit

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