In history, a city that needed to keep out invaders built a wall all around it. The thicker the wall, the sturdier the protection was. Your body has its own “wall” to protect you from invaders like dirt and germs: your skin. Pressure and friction can trigger your body to thicken this wall, too. That creates corns and calluses.
Fortifying the Wall
Your skin is incredible, serving as your body’s first level of protection against foreign objects and invaders. It’s flexible, stretchy, and fairly durable, but pressure and friction can damage it, especially over a period of time. Certain areas, like your feet, are particularly susceptible to this problem. Pressure from walking and rubbing from your shoes wears on the skin. Your body responds by thickening the layers there. You build up hardened patches called corns and calluses to protect the vulnerable areas of your lower limbs.
Corns are small, raised bumps with a hard center. Typically they appear on non-weight bearing parts of the feet, like the tops and sides of your toes. Only rarely do they appear on the bottom of the foot. Calluses are flat, wide patches. They develop under your soles or the bottoms of your toes, where your feet are under a lot of pressure. Both are typically rough and appear dry or waxy. Your skin may be flakey around these patches. Sometimes the areas surrounding them are tender as well.
A Faulty Defense
This natural response to thicken your skin isn’t always a problem. Sometimes calluses help protect a pressure point and don’t cause any side effects. In many other cases, however, they actually cause a different pain. Corns in particular can ache when you press against them, though either problem may add uncomfortable pressure to the soft tissues below them. They may also signal a larger problem that is directing abnormal pressure to your lower limbs. Bunions, hammertoes, some bone spurs, and other biomechanical issues may increase your risks for corns and calluses. If you have diabetes, a thickened patch of skin can create serious problems, including contributing to potential infections or breaking down into an ulcer.
Repairing the Wall
Fortunately, these thick, dry skin patches can be managed using entirely conservative measures. Dr. Brandon S. Percival, Dr. Julie A. Percival, and Dr. William Harris will carefully examine your feet to accurately diagnose your skin issues and determine what may have caused them. From there you can begin treatment to alleviate the pressure and reduce the skin build-up.
Painful calluses or corns will need to be trimmed down. Our staff will do this carefully to avoid damaging the healthy skin around the thickened patch. Sometimes medication to soften the hardened skin is helpful.
Then you’ll need to reduce the pressure on the feet. This may mean changing to better-fitting shoes or using orthotics. If your shoes consistently rub against your feet, you can also use a pad to protect the skin from friction. If you have biomechanical issues that contributed to the problem, you may need orthotics to help minimize the overall pressure on the lower limbs.
Corns and calluses are uncomfortable, but they don’t have to cause pain. Don’t wait for complications to develop from a condition that is easy to manage. Instead, contact Carolina Podiatry Group in Lancaster, Rock Hill, or Indian Land, South Carolina. See how we can restore your skin. Use the website or call us to make an appointment: (803) 285-1411 for the Lancaster office, or (803) 548-FEET for the Indian Land location.