“Callous” and “callus” are homophonic words whose meaning you can figure out from the context of the conversation. “He’s a callous sod!” would mean you’re talking about a person who’s unfeeling. But “These sandals sure don’t hide my calluses!” makes clear that you’re talking about a patch of thickened skin on your foot. Hmmm…“callous” can describe a hard-hearted person, and “callus” is a hard spot that you find on your feet…so are the words related? But we digress.
Whatever its origin, our podiatrists, Heidi M. Christie, DPM and Chanda L. Day-Houts, DPM, routinely find themselves using the word “callus” and its relative, “corn,” at our podiatry office, Montgomery Foot Care Specialists, in Montgomery, AL.
Corn vs. callus – what’s the difference?
Corns and calluses both refer to an area of rough, thickened skin – but what you call it depends on where it is on your foot. A hard patch of skin that forms on your sole, your heel, or the outer side of your big toe is called a callus.
When a callus forms on top of your toe, then we call it a corn – so, it’s just a specific kind of callus. Sometimes corns will develop in between your toes, and we call these “soft corns.”
Why do you get them?
The leading cause of corns and calluses probably won’t come as a surprise: it’s shoes that fit poorly. The constant rubbing or pressure of a shoe irritates the skin, and so the skin protects itself by forming a callus. Corns sometimes form as a result of toe deformities like claw toe or hammertoe.
What should I do with a callus or corn?
Non-diabetics can choose to
- Soak your feet regularly in warm, soapy water. Once the callus is soft, begin to eliminate it by rubbing it gently with a pumice stone.
- Create a cushion between your callus and your shoe with a round or U-shaped foam pad, available over-the-counter at pharmacies and big-box stores.
- Make an appointment with us to have them professionally trimmed and treated, especially if they’re large.
- When corns or calluses make your life hard, get relief by contacting us online or calling us at (334) 396-3668.
- If you’re diabetic, abandon all thoughts of treating a callus on your own, and head straight to our office. Improper treatment can lead to serious problems in the diabetic foot – and that goes for anyone with circulatory issues as well.