How to prevent, treat and remove corns? – Foot Corn Treatment

3 min read
How to prevent, treat and remove corns? – Foot Corn Treatment How to prevent, treat and remove corns? – Foot Corn Treatment How to prevent, treat and remove corns? – Foot Corn Treatment

Corns are hardened bumps or rough patches of skin on your feet, that are sensitive to touch or cause pain. Corns are one of the most common foot ailments [1]. They are the result of increased production of keratin as your body’s protective response to prolonged or repeated friction or pressure. That’s why corns usually appear on typical pressure spots and why certain people are more prone to developing them than others.

Who suffers from corns and why?

Some risk factors for developing corns are related to your body and might be genetic or are acquired by, for example, trauma or ageing. These include foot abnormalities such as flat-footedness, abnormal gait or deformities like bunions and hammer toe as well as low skin elasticity (e.g. due to age).

Other risk factors are related to your activity. People with jobs that require a lot of time on their feet (e.g. nurses, waiters or cabin crew) are at a higher risk of developing corns.

One of the most prominent risk factors we can control, however, is the choice of footwear. We too often choose our shoes by appearance and do not pay enough attention to a good fit and comfort.

Prevention is key! - How to prevent corns?

Treatments can help resolve the corn in around 2-4 weeks, but generally, they return if the source of pressure causing it remains. Therefore, it is important to find the source of the pressure and avoid it.

This is most often achieved by simply changing to more comfortable footwear or using padding (moleskin or adhesive pads available in pharmacies) until new shoes are broken in. In some cases, insoles might help.

Only in rare cases, medical intervention is required.

Here are some general tips on how best to prevent corns, without having to give up your favourite activities or your job:

What to do:

  • Take care of your feet! Wash your feet with soap and warm water every evening and apply a moisturising foot cream after drying them well. If you tend to have hard skin, regularly use a pumice stone or foot file to remove it.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed. Long toenails can rub on the neighbouring toes or push the toe against the shoe which can cause corns on the toes. To trim your toenails correctly, make sure to cut them straight across and not rounded or angled.
  • Wear comfortable well-fitting shoes. The most common cause for corns on the foot are shoes that are the wrong size or shape. Wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole that do not rub are ideal. Since your feet swell slightly during the day, try to shop for shoes in the evening, when your feet are the largest. Also, pay attention to any seams that might cause irritation.
  • Regularly change your shoes in order to avoid irritating the same pressure spots every day. This is particularly advisable for people that are at a higher risk due to their professional activities.
  • Wear comfortable socks, which, if necessary, are thick and cushioned.
  • Avoid excessive sweating. If you tend to sweat a lot, using talcum powder in your socks is advisable.
  • Use heel pads or soft insoles. If you have to stand or walk a lot due to your professional activities, this might help you to relieve the pressure on your feet.
  • Pay attention to your feet! Take care of any irritation or pain directly and if necessary see a foot specialist regularly.
  • Protect your feet when breaking-in new shoes. Wear thick socks or light breathable bandages on areas prone to corn formation. If you know that you will wear tight shoes or if you start feeling a point of pressure, corn plasters, such as COMPEED® Corn plasters might be of use. COMPEED® Corn plasters provide a protective layer to prevent further rubbing while their hydrocolloid technology combined with skin-softening ingredients is designed to provide a continuous moisturising treatment.
  • Seek medical advice if you have any underlying foot problems, such as deformities of the feet or an abnormal gait. In these cases, your doctor might recommend special footwear or corrective inserts.

What to avoid:

  • Avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes where possible. Try not to wear shoes that are too tight, too loose, too high or have badly placed seams. Types of shoes such as high heels, pointed-toe heels and high arched boots are generally not well adapted for wearing for long periods of time.
  • Don’t wear badly fitting socks, no socks or no footwear at all.
  • Try to avoid prolonged periods of standing.

Remedies and Removal - Treatment for Corns

Small corns generally require little to no treatment and usually go away by themselves if you avoid the pressure causing them. If your corn causes irritation or pain, there are several ways to relieve the pressure and treat the corn. When treated, corns usually take about two to four weeks to disappear. In all cases, taking care of your feet, washing and drying them well and moisturising them regularly helps.

Please note, that if you have insensitive skin due to poor circulation, diabetes or nerve damage, you should consult a chiropodist before treatment.

  • Scraping – Trimming by scraping is generally only necessary for the removal of large painful corns. Scraping should be performed by a foot specialist. If you would like to trim your corn yourself you can file it.
  • Filing – If it is causing irritation, gently filing it down with a pumice stone might help to relieve pressure.
    1. It’s highly recommended to ensure the skin is moisturised/softened before filing. You should soak the corn in warm water for about 10 minutes beforehand to soften the skin. Alternatively, you could file your corn after a warm bath.
    2. Dip the pumice stone in the water and then gently remove the dead skin by circular or sideways motions.
    3. Be careful not to remove too much skin as this might cause bleeding and infection. Instead, remove only small amounts and repeat the action regularly until the corn disappears.
  • Non-prescription treatments and remedies – These treatments and remedies are usually based on cushioning the corn, rather than removing the corn. Compeedsup>® Corn Plasters, for example, contain hydrocolloid technology, which provides pain relief by cushioning, protects your corn from further rubbing and at the same time moisturises the area around your corn, helping to remove it.
  • Over-the-counter treatments include salicylic acid, which helps to dissolve the keratin structure that makes up the dead skin. Salicylic acid treatment is available in different concentrations and comes as a cream, pad, or plaster.

Following the treatment, the dead skin will turn white and can be filed away. These treatments should only be used cautiously as the salicylic acid might irritate the surrounding healthy skin and should not be used on cracked corns.

If you have diabetes or poor circulation, you should avoid these treatments, or consult your doctor or chiropodist before any treatment.

When treated, they usually take about two to four weeks to disappear.

When should I seek medical advice?

Although corns are not serious, they can cause irritation, inflammation or even ulceration. If you experience severe inflammation or pain, you should seek medical advice.

If you are unsure if what you have is a corn, you are advised to consult a doctor or other appropriate healthcare professional.

Frequently reappearing corns might be caused by foot abnormalities, such as deformities, structural abnormalities of the bones, poor bone alignment or an abnormal gait. If you are concerned by their frequency or persistency, you might want to visit a doctor or podiatrist in order to rule out or detect any of these underlying causes. In these cases, a specific padding or shoe insert might help you to prevent corns from reappearing. In rare cases, surgery might be necessary.

Samuelle Yohou
Samuelle Yohou
Medical Manager at HRA Pharma since March 2021, Samuelle Yohou is responsible for ensuring information published on COMPEED’s UK and Ireland websites is accurate and up to date from a medical and regulatory perspective.