Corns And Calluses

You may refer to your feet as tootsies or dogs, but the fact remains that feet are highly sophisticated structures. The human foot is a miracle of engineering designed to stand up under a lot of wear and tear. It’s a good thing, too: Your feet are the most used and abused parts of your body. According to the American Podiatric medical Association, the average American walks ‘15,000 miles in a lifetime-a distance that would ‘re you all the way around the earth four times. your feet support the weight of your body, plus clothing and whatever extras you might be carrying. And in an average day of walking, your feet are subjected to a force equal to several hundred tons.

Despite how well designed your feet are, however, things can go wrong. In fact, an estimated 87 percent of all American adults have some type of foot problem. Among the most common of these problems are corns and calluses.

Although both corns and calluses are patches of toughened skin that form to protect sensitive foot tissue against repeated friction and pressure, they different in some ways. Hard corns are usually found on the tops of the toes or on the outer sides of the little toes, where the skin rubs against the shoe. Sometimes, a corn will form on the ball of foot, beneath a callus, resulting in a sharp, localized pain with each step. Soft corns, which are ist and rubbery, form between toes, where the bones of one toe exert pressure on the bones of its, neighbor. Both hard and soft corns are cone shaped, with the tip pointing into the foot (what you see is the base of the cone). When a shoe or !her toe puts pressure against the corn, the tip can hit sensitive underlying tissue, causing pain.

Calluses, on the other hand, generally form over at surface and have no tip. They usually appear on the weight-bearing parts of the foot-the ball or the heel. Each step presses the callus against, underlying tissue and may cause aching, burning, or tenderness, but rarely sharp pain.

There are some things you can do to relieve the discomfort associated with these two conditions. Try the tips that follow. If, despite trying these strategies, your corn or callus continues to cause discomfort, see a podiatrist. In addition, if you have diabetes or any other disorder that affects circulation, do not attempt to self-treat any foot problem; see your podiatrist right away.

Play detective. “Corns and calluses develop for a reason,” says Suzanne M. Levine, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in New York. “Abnormal amounts of dead, thickened skin form at certain spots on your feet to protect them from excess pressure and friction.” Obviously, the real solution to corns and calluses is to track down and eliminate whatever is causing the pressure and friction. “The place to start is with your shoes,” advises Levine. See “If the Shoe Fits” for tips on choosing well-fitting shoes.

Trim those toenails. Toenails are designed to protect the toes from injury. However, the pressure of a shoe on a toenail that is too long can force the joint of the toe to push up against the shoe, forming a corn. To take the pressure off, keep your toenails trimmed. Cut each toenail straight across so that it doesn’t extend beyond the tip of the toe. Then, file each toenail to smooth any rough edges.

Take a soak. While eli­minating the source of the problem is essential, sometimes you need im­mediate relief from the sharp pain of a corn. Levine suggests soaking the affected foot in a solution of Epsom salts and warm water, then smoothing on a moisturizing cream, and wrapping the foot in a plastic bag. Keep the bag on for a couple of hours. Then remove the bag and gently rub the corn in a sideways motion with a pumice stone. “This will provide temporary relief-and I stress temporary,” says Levine.

Ice a hard corn. If a hard corn is so painful and swollen that you can’t even think of putting a shoe on your foot, apply ice to the corn to help reduce some of the swelling and discomfort.

Don’t cut. There are a myriad of paring and cutting items to remove corns and calluses. available in your local drugstore or variety store,: but you should ignore them all, in the best interest of your feet. “Cutting corns is always dangerous, says Mary Papadopoulos, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia. “You can expose yourself to an infection, or you may cause bleeding that is not easily stopped.”

Soft step it. “You can give yourself temporary relief from corns and calluses with shielding and padding,” says Joseph C. D’Amico, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in New York. What you want the padding to do is transfer the pressure of the shoe from a painful spot to one that is free of pain. Nonmedicated corn pads, for example, surround the corn with material that is higher than the corn itself, thus protecting the corn from contact with the shoe.

A similar idea applies when padding a callus. Cut a piece of moleskin (available an your local drugstore or camping supply store) into two half moon shapes and place the pieces on opposite! sides of the area to protect it.

Separate your piggies. To relieve soft corns that form between toes, keep the toes separated with; lamb’s wool or cotton. A small, felt pad, like those for hard corns, may also be used for this purpose”

Baby your soft corn. In addition to separating you! toes, sprinkle a little cornstarch or baby powder between them to help absorb moisture.

Mix your own callus concoction. For calluses, Levine suggests mixing up your own callus softener. Make a paste using five or six aspirin tablets and a tablespoon of lemon juice, apply it to the callus, wrap your foot in a plastic bag, and wrap to a warm towel around the bag. Wait ten minutes, then unwrap the foot and gently rub the ,us with a pumice stone.

Invite your feet to tea. Soaking your feet in chamomile tea that has been thoroughly diluted has a soothing effect and, according to Levine, will help dry out sweaty feet (excessive moisture can contribute to foot problems). The chamomile will stain your feet, but the stain can be easily removed with soap and water.

Coat your feet. If you expect to be doing an unusu­al amount of walking or running, coat your toes with a little petroleum jelly to reduce friction.

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