Corns and Calluses: Hard Skin Patches

They are a familiar aspect of life for active people. Anyone who spends enough time on their feet or working with their hands will develop them: corns and calluses. These lesions aren’t always a problem. Sometimes, however, the built-up skin can cause pain for your feet.

Laying Down Extra Layers

Corns and calluses are both patches formed by extra layers of dead skin. They build up naturally as a response to friction and pressure. Corns are typically raised, rounded, or cone-shaped bumps that appear on the tops or sides of your toes or feet. Calluses are large, flat lesions that appear under weight-bearing areas of your lower limbs, like the heel and ball of the foot. They may be prone to cracking or splitting, too, particularly on the heels. Although these two conditions are different, they both tend to be hard and rough to the touch. They may be dry, waxy, or flaky as well.  

Both are your body’s attempt to reduce the damaging friction against the feet. As footwear rubs against your lower limbs, the spots under the highest pressure or friction chafe. To protect that spot from injury, your body creates a thick patch of skin. In many cases, these patches are relatively harmless. They might not cause pain or difficulty wearing normal shoes. Other times, however, they are a problem for your feet. They may be painful under pressure, contribute to cracked skin, or signal biomechanical problems.

When to Be Concerned

When these skin bumps aren’t causing problems, they can sometimes be left alone. Other times, however, these lesions need to be properly cared for and eliminated. The thickened patches can be uncomfortable under pressure. Wearing certain shoes may become more painful. For people with diabetes, these can deteriorate into ulcers as well, so they should have them professionally ground down or excised.

What to Do about These Lesions

Dr. Sanjay Patel and the staff at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. will examine your hard patches of skin to determine what created them. They’ll also check for potential complications from the built-up skin. Then we can work with you to decide the best course of treatment. In most cases, conservative therapy is all that’s needed.

Reducing the pressure and friction on the skin should allow the lesions to resolve on their own in most cases. Most likely this will mean changing your shoes to models that don’t pinch or rub your feet. Avoid high heels and other shoes that shift your weight abnormally forward, too. In some cases, you may need orthotics to adjust your biomechanics or help cushion your lower limbs. If the lesions are thick and already causing painful problems, the excess skin layers will need to be removed. Sanding them down with a pumice stone may be sufficient in many cases. For unusually thick and painful patches, however, our team may need to carefully excise them without damaging the healthy skin around them.

Corns and calluses are easy to manage, especially if you take care of them early instead of allowing them to develop and progress. Dr. Sanjay Patel and our staff at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. are experts who can help you take care of your uncomfortable foot skin issues. Don’t wait for complications to arise before seeking help. Contact our Connecticut offices for an appointment through the website or by calling 203-288-4055 for Hamden, or 203-876-7736 for Milford.