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Why Do Corns Occur, and How to Get Rid of Corns on Hands and Feet?

While often described as thickening of the skin, it is not an accurate description. Although the skin on the heel may thicken, it is not classified as a corn; thickening of the skin is referred to as hyperkeratosis.

In the case of corns, the thickening of the skin is not a normal thickening but rather a deep, pyramid-shaped thickening into the layers of the skin. This thickening occurs incorrectly, forming a pyramid-shaped problem with the apex, known as the nidus or root.

Why and How Do Corns Occur?

In reality, the formation of corns is a defensive response by the body. The primary cause of this response is traumatic impact.

Factors such as overlapping fingers, applying pressure to a specific and narrow area of the foot while walking, or the foot repeatedly hitting the same point in the shoe stimulate the skin in that area with each step.

In response to this impact, the body thickens the skin in that region for protection. While this thickening is not initially problematic, if trauma persists in the thickened skin area, it progresses deeper into the layers like an inverted pyramid. This development occurs in the form of an inverted pyramid.

It is commonly misconceived in society that tight shoes cause corns, but this is incorrect. Tight shoes do not cause corns; instead, shoes hitting the foot can lead to corns. This issue can resolve spontaneously if the same shoes are not worn for a few days.”

How to Get Rid of Corns?

It is challenging for corns that have developed over the years and progressed into deeper layers to resolve spontaneously. A slight possibility of self-recovery may exist if the constant friction is entirely eliminated. For instance, placing silicone between overlapping toes to prevent them from touching each other might contribute to a slight chance of self-improvement.

However, products like tape, creams, solutions, etc., which provide temporary relief by peeling off the top layer, are not a solution, as the root remains beneath the skin and there is a high probability (almost 100%) of recurrence in a few months.

The correct approach involves methods that eliminate the root, known as nidus, which extends deep into the layers of the skin.

In the case of diabetic individuals, treatment should primarily focus on orthopedic devices because foot inflammations can pose serious issues in diabetes patients.

Are There Any Corn Medications or Creams? Do They Work?

They partially work, more accurately, they help alleviate symptoms, but since they don’t provide a definitive solution, complaints may reoccur within weeks or months. Various skin-softening products applied to the corn’s surface eradicate the most superficial layers. As a result, the volume decreases when the top layer is removed, leading to a reduction in weight and pressure reaching the root. While the patient’s pain decreases due to reduced pressure, the disease recurs as the root remains in place.

How to Use Corn Pads, and Do They Heal Corns?

The side of the pad that touches the skin contains a keratolytic substance that dissolves the skin. The pad is applied and left in place for 3 – 4 days. During this period, the skin above the pad dissolves and peels off along with the band. While the patient might mistakenly believe that the removal of a layer there will lead to a complete recovery, this is not a full cure because the nidus is not removed. Within weeks, everything returns to its previous state. However, during this few-week period, the patient’s pain decreases, and walking becomes more comfortable. Achieving a few weeks of relief through a simple pad can be considered a significant benefit.

What is Good for Corns on the Feet?

Many things can be beneficial, and they can be listed as follows:

  1. Changing the style of shoes
  2. Wearing slippers as much as possible
  3. Wearing shoes with soft soles, and if necessary, placing a silicone layer underneath
  4. Using silicone cushions if toes collide
  5. Treating orthopedic problems if present
  6. Using corn pads if the issue is not advanced
  7. Seeking radiofrequency treatment if the problem persists

How to Remove the Root of a Corn? Can it be Done at Home?

The root of a corn can extend up to 4 to 10 mm deep, depending on the location. The root part is not distinctly bordered, intertwining with the surrounding subdermal tissue. It may even extend to the bone. Removing such a deeply rooted structure, fused with tissue, by someone without surgical training or healthcare expertise at home is impossible.

There are two ways to ensure the removal of the root, either surgically cut and removed or removed using radiofrequency.

What to Do for Corns on the Hand and Between Fingers?

The occurrence of corns on the hands is entirely due to incorrect usage. It manifests when pressure is applied to the same point with the same object, such as holding a pen. If the object is not used with the same fingers, it may self-correct within 2-4 months.

Another issue may arise at points where two fingers collide. In such cases, discontinuing the application causing the collision of those two fingers is necessary, or a silicone ring can be placed between the two fingers.

What to Do for Corns on the Sole of the Foot?

Due to confusion with warts, it is essential to undergo an examination to confirm the diagnosis. Eliminating the cause should be the first step, and the possibility is high that the cause might be footwear. Different styles of shoes should be purchased, and various shoes should be worn on different days. If there is regression in the corn, applications like bandage can be used, or careful use of pumice stone or razor may be applied. If the symptoms are regressing, it implies improvement, and the treatment should be continued. If there is no significant improvement, it is recommended to move on to other methods such as radiofrequency or surgery that eliminate the root.

Can Aspirin and Vaseline be Used for Corn Treatment?

Vaseline can partially relieve by softening the outer layer, but it does not have a significant effect. Aspirin is acidic and has a keratolytic effect, meaning it dissolves the skin. It can temporarily relieve pain by thinning the skin, but it is not a definitive solution; it is a temporary relief.

Which Doctor or Department to Consult for Corns?

Patients often go to the dermatology clinic; however, cryotherapy is performed in dermatology clinics, which is a highly unsuccessful treatment method since the root is not removed. A more accurate approach would be to visit the general surgery department for successful methods like radiofrequency and surgery, where the root can be clearly removed.

What Is the Best Corn Treatment?

The best treatment should include the following features:

  • Low likelihood of recurrence
  • Painless application, allowing a return to work on the same day
  • Low risk
  • Non-tension-inducing
  • Ability to wear shoes after the procedure

While it may not be expected to be the only method providing all these features, being able to fulfill most of them can be considered good enough.

Of course, the selection of the best method depends on the size, depth, location, and whether it is in a tense area.

In general evaluation, treatment methods can be ranked from best to worst as follows:

  • Radiofrequency vaporization
  • Cauterization with a hot instrument
  • Surgical removal through surgery
  • Cryotherapy, also known as freezing
  • Seeking care from a podiatrist
  • Applying corn pads
  • Cleaning by filing with a pumice stone
  • Removal by cutting from above with a blade
  • Caustic burning with acidic substances
  • Treatment with vinegar

Kissing Corn: What Is It?

In medical terminology, the term ‘kissing’ is used to describe lesions that are opposite each other. For example, if there are ulcers on both the front and back walls of the stomach or the duodenum, they are referred to as ‘kissing ulcers.’ A similar situation applies to corns. If the facing surfaces of adjacent fingers collide due to deformity, corns can develop at the points of contact on both fingers. This condition is referred to as ‘kissing corns,’ and treatment can be performed simultaneously.

Is Plantar Wart the Same as Corn?

These are two very different conditions but are often confused. The treatment for plantar warts, also known as verruca plantaris, is different. Especially beauty experts and podiatrists without medical training or experience in dealing with warts may attempt to treat them similarly to corns, but due to their contagious nature, this can lead to new problems. Warts are caused by a viral infection and are contagious.

About Op. Dr. Canan ERDEM

Merhabalar, ben Op. Dr. Canan ERDEM, 1967 doğumluyum 1984 yılında Etiler Anadolu Lisesinden mezun olduktan sonra Cerrahpaşa Tıp Fakültesi’ne girdim ve 1990 yılında mezun oldum. 1991 yılında Erzurum’da mecburi hizmetimi tamamlayarak 2000 yılında Kartal Eğitim Araştırma Hastanesinde Genel Cerrahi Uzmanlığı İhtisasımı tamamladım.