Every time you walk every day, your feet take quite a beating, and I bet you never knew that they fight back, and today I’m going to tell you how. The way they fight back is by thickening the skin on the part of the foot that takes the beating, the part where all the friction is and where all the force is. This is one of the ways skin protects itself, by thickening, but sometimes, it does it in a fashion that’s not equal and, as a result, this uneven thickening of the skin forms either a callus or a corn, and they are very different, their treatment is different, and the corn hurts, usually the callus doesn’t. When the skin thickens on the bottom of your foot, and let’s make believe this is the bottom of your foot, skin thickening builds up a mound and actually that mound, usually with a callus, has the shape of the top of this plastic cup. It’s fairly broad, not very tall, almost dome-shaped, and it’s just thickened skin. It doesn’t hurt, you just see a thickening, it looks funny, and it’s easy to treat. The easiest way is with a salicylic acid plaster which are available over-the-counter—CVS, Duane Reade. You use them every day, changing them twice a day, and over a period of time, they will eat away or dissolve that extra thickened skin. Of course, if whatever is causing the thickening and the callusing isn’t addressed in some way, then after you get rid of it, it’s just going to come right back. Corns are very different. Corns also occur from rubbing, from friction and, again, if we assume that this is the bottom of your foot, this is the way the corn grows. It grows into the bottom of the foot and, if you’re looking at the bottom of your foot, you see a round circle which is shiny and looks very dense, but it’s flat with the surface of the skin—it’s not raised. And the reason for that is, when you get a corn, it’s because, despite the rubbing and the skin’s ability to thicken, it’s got no place for that thickened skin to go, so it starts growing in, and it grows into your foot in this conical shape. Now could you imagine having a pebble or a pin in your shoe that was pointed like this and pointing into your skin? You bet it would hurt, and corns really do hurt a lot. The only way to treat corns effectively really is to cut them out because, once that thick, hard, dense piece of skin is penetrating into your foot, even though you take away the extra force that’s causing it, it’s not going to dissolve, even with alleged corn dissolvers, and usually either a podiatrist or a dermatologist very simply and painlessly removes it.
So remember, the next time your feet hurt or the next time you’re walking, when you’re using your feet, they are fighting back and, if you’re putting a little bit too much uneven force on them, you’re apt to get either a corn or a callus, both of which can be fixed.