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Your Health

Test your knowledge of calluses and corns

Calluses and Corns

Calluses and corns – bumpy or painful spots on the feet – can take some spring out of your step. And with spring around the corner, it's a good time to think "foot care."

A callus is a large, thickened layer of dead skin that forms over bony areas (sometimes elbows or hands) but most often on the soles of feet. It is generally caused by repetitive pressure or friction. It may or may not be painful. A corn is a small, smooth, and usually painful area of overgrown skin. Corns may develop on tops or sides of toes.

To find out how much you know about corns and calluses, answer true or false:

1. Wearing too-tight shoes can cause common foot problems. True  False
2. Simple self-care strategies can relieve painful corns or calluses. True False
3. You should always remove a callus, even if it doesn't hurt. True False

Answers

1. True. Too-tight shoes can cause both calluses and corns. Shoes should have a soft upper to prevent rubbing or friction on the foot and plenty of wiggle room for toes.

2. True. Buy shoes wide enough to avoid pressure on corns on the sides of your baby toes, and deep enough to have room for corns on the tops of toes. You can relieve painful pressure by using corn pads or cotton balls over affected toes. Shoe inserts, such as gel insoles, can help cushion corns. To accommodate inserts, you may need to buy slightly larger shoes.

You also can ease corn pain by filing away dead tissue with a pumice stone. To reduce or eliminate a corn, carefully apply an over-the-counter preparation of salicylic acid. People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease should contact their health care provider for advice before attempting to self-treat corns and calluses because they are at higher risk of serious complications.

3. False. A non-painful callus can actually protect the parts of the foot or hand that get repeated pressure. If calluses hurt, soak the foot in warm water and use a pumice stone to remove some of the dead skin. An alternate method: Soften the callus with a salicylic acid ointment or lotion or a product containing lactic acid.