of the most common problems seen in our practice is that of corns
and calluses. Everybody at some point in their live may have suffered
from this problem. Though not a serious health hazard, it is an
annoying and sometimes painful problem. So what are corns and calluses,
why do they develop and how can be prevented or treated? This article
will help to answer few of these questions and doubts.
WHAT ARE CORNS AND CALLUSES AND WHY DO THEY FORM?
Contrary to what people think corns and calluses are two separate
problems. However both of them are areas of thickened skin which
form as a result of excessive pressure or friction over a bony prominence.
This thickening of the skin occurs as a defense mechanism of our
body to the external pressure. Unfortunately this increasing thickened
area of skin then exerts pressure on the surrounding tissue forming
a vicious cycle. It is also important to remember that not all areas
of thickened skin are corns or calluses. Therefore it is best to
reach a correct diagnosis before treating.
CORNS - occur most commonly on the top and sides of your
toes. They are smaller in size as compared to calluses usually less
than a quarter of an inch in diameter. These corns can be painful
and have a hard center. Corns are associated more with bony deformities
like hammertoe. Even a bony spur can give rise to corns.
Sometimes soft corns can form between the toes. This appears as areas
of moist white skin. If not treated these can be very painful and
lead to complications like ulcer or sinus formation with infection.
Soft corns are formed due to irregularities in shape of the toes.
CALLUSES - are found on the soles of the feet and palms
of the hands. They are rough to feel but very rarely painful. Their
shape and size can vary and they have a diffuse appearance. The most
common area where calluses form is underneath the ball of the great
toe. This is a weight bearing area of the foot and a lot of pressure
is exerted on this area. If the bones of the foot are slightly out
of their alignment or have some deformity then this puts a lot of
pressure of the sole causing calluses to form.
Similarly if your work entails you to use tools or other gadgets
constantly with your hands you will develop calluses on your palms.
WHAT CAUSES CORNS AND CALLUSES TO FORM?
As explained earlier corns and calluses are areas of thickened
skin formed due to constant pressure or friction of repetitive actions.
The source of this pressure is what causes this problem.
1. Ill fitting shoes and footwear - People who have a habit of
wearing tight shoes or very high heeled ones are at risk for developing
corns and callosities. Similarly if you wear shoes, which are of
a larger size then your feet tend to slide inside the shoe causing
friction. Sometimes the seam or stitching of the shoe may exert pressure
on your foot causing problems.
2. Not wearing socks - footwear without socks can lead to development
of corns and calluses. This is due to the friction caused by the
rubbing of the shoe on the skin of the foot. Also if your socks are
too tight or if you are in the habit of wearing tight stockings it
can lead to this problem.
3. Working with tools or appliances - you are at risk of developing
corns and callosities on your hands if you working continuously with
a tool or gadget. Some atheletes and sports people are prone to developing
calluses and corns.
4. Hammertoes and other bony deformities - Hammertoe is a deformity
of the toe where in which t becomes clenched and resembles a claw.
This is normally seen in the toe right next to the big toe. Other
bony deformities, which can give rise to this problem are Bunions.
A Bunion is an abnormal bump that is present on the base of your
5. Bony spur - a spur is a foot deformity causing problems like calluses
on the sole of the foot. Other foot abnormalities can also put extra
pressure on certain parts causing this problem.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF CORNS AND CALLUSES?
Though not a serious problem, corns or calluses can become complicated.
The corn or callus can become infected especially if there is poor
blood supply in that area. They can become very painful and inflamed.
The wound can become very deep and expose the tendons or even bone
below which puts these tissues at a risk of acquiring an infection.
People who are diabetic or have poor circulation are more at risk
for corns or calluses to become complicated.
HOW CAN CORNS AND CALLUSES BE TREATED?
There are a number of over the counter remedies available like
corn caps, certain creams and ointments. Your pedicurist will be
ready to cut it for you or scrape the area. However all these are
temporary shortcut measures and useless in the long run. They even
have their side-effects especially the corn caps containing salicyclic
acid. This can damage the skin around the corn or callus. Even getting
it cut or surgically removed does not mean that it does not form
again. The best solution is to treat the main cause and take the
appropriate Homoeopathic medicine at the same time.
Externally 'THUJA' 10% mother tincture and 'HYPERICUM' 10% mother
tincture helps in softening the corn and relieve the pain.
When internal treatment is given along with external care the corn
or callus gets rapidly dissolved or absorbed.
This is one of the most effective and specific medicines for corns
and callosites. It should be given in 200C or 1000C potency.
If the corn is situated on a nerve then it gives rise to excruciating
pain, specially on the tips of the fingers and toes where the nerve
supply is maximum. Hypericum 1000C in repeated dosage will help.
This medicine has dissolved a multiple number of 'HARD CORNS' and "HORNY
CALLOSITIES" along with Thuja as an inter-current remedy. It has
a special action on the thickened cells of the skin. Antimony Crud
200, 5 pills four times a day should be given.
This is specific when there are Hard Corns with cracks. These are
very painful and bleed on touch or movement - Nitric Acid 200C, 5
pills should be given four times a day.
There are many more homoeopathic remedies for the treatment of
these calluses and corns but each one is prescribed upon the totality
of symptoms. If you are diabetic then please avoid getting your corn
cut or being treated by a lay person. It is very important to keep
your blood sugar under control so that the circulation to the feet
and hands remain
Readers are advised that the medical advice offered in this column
pertains to generalized treatment of condition. Kindly consult your
doctor before self-medication