Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Corns

Questions and Answers

Why do corns ache if they are just
dead skin?

Microscopic sections of corns show
mild inflammation in the skin
below the corn. Corns will ache if
pressed because the hard corn is
putting pressure on the soft tissue.

I have very soft skin. How can I
prevent blisters and corns from
forming during a hiking vacation?

The best protection is to wear very
comfortable walking shoes and soft
woolen socks. If the shoes are new,
be sure to walk several miles in
them before going on a long trek.
Soaking the skin with rubbing
alcohol may harden up areas that
could blister, but don’t do this if
you are susceptible to corns, as it
might encourage them instead.

The skin on my feet is hard and
thick. What can I do to prevent it
from becoming painful?

Make sure your shoes fit properly,
then pare the hard skin on your
feet down to a minimum. A hard
area of corny skin will produce a
blister beneath it if the rubbing or
friction is severe enough.

Can corns become cancerous?

This is virtually impossible. Even
though skin cell formation
increases in corns, it is never
malignant. If a corn spreads a lot,
bleeds, or does not seem like other
corns, it is probably not a corn and
should be seen by a doctor.

I once picked at a corn that was
over my bunion and a plug came
out. What was this?

A corn can become infected and
develop a small abscess if, for
instance, dead skin is pared with a
dirty instrument. The plug was
probably that of an abscess.

Corns are localized areas of hard, horny skin formed by repeated rubbing or
pressure. They are so common that most people have had them at some time
in their lives. Corns can usually be treated at home or, if severe, by a podiatrist
.

Corn plasters (left) contain an acid that softens the hard skin so that it can be
removed more easily. Corn pads (right) can he used to protect corns from rubbing
.

Corns are hardened areas of skin that form as a result of repeated rubbing or pressure. Dead skin cells build up and create a thickening of the keratin (protein) in the skin, which inflames the deeper skin cells underneath, causing pain and discomfort. Very large corns are usually called calluses.


Causes

Corns are likely to occur whenever and wherever there is excessive wear on the skin. Manual laborers and people who go barefoot develop pads of hard skin that are quite normal, never painful, and, therefore, not true corns. In other people, such as violinists (who are continually rubbing their chins against wood) and anyone wearing a new pair of tight shoes, pads of skin may form at the site of the rubbing, causing considerable pain. These are true corns.

Badly fitting shoes and high heels tend to cause corns. The most common sites are on the ball of the foot, the sides of the toes between the joints, and sometimes the heel.

Corns frequently form over bunions, although there is no special association between the two. The reason is simply that the bunion, being a swelling on a prominent bone, presses against the inside of footwear, causing pressure. Corns invariably appear over bony prominences, where the hard skin protects delicate structures underneath. Some people are more susceptible to corns than others; this is particularly true of the elderly.

Calluses can also develop where artificial limbs or appliances rub on the skin. They are a normal response to excessive wear. In some cases they can be useful, because they take the brunt of pressure and impact and protect the skin; but occasionally they may become uncomfortable and need trimming.


Symptoms

A corn can be recognized as an area of hard, thick skin that often looks yellow compared to the surrounding skin. It is often conical in shape. Corns between the toes can be soft.

A corn is an area of hard, thickened
skin, beneath which the skin cells have
become inflamed
.

-417-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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