Another common everyday foot problem is corns, and these also are relatively easy to treat. Corns are bumps that actually look like kernels of corn, and like calluses, corns develop because of friction and pressure.
Corns, however, appear only on or between toes. They develop when toes don't coexist comfortably -- either because the toes are not shaped correctly or, most commonly, because they're jammed into shoes that don't fit properly.
Corns cause pain not only on the surface of the foot, where the top of the corn rubs against a shoe, for instance, but also inside the toe, where the root of the corn exerts pressure on sensitive nerves. What's worse, the more friction on the corn, and the more pain you experience, the faster the corn will grow. Corns can be "hard" or "soft." Soft corns are found between toes, where the moister environment keeps them softer than the hard corns on the tops of toes.
Permanent correction of extremely painful or chronically inflamed corns is usually achieved only with collagen injections or surgery. With most corns, however, the solution is simply a change in footwear: to shoes with a wider toe box or, when possible, to sandals. Dr. Suzanne Levine, DPM, recommends against using drugstore "corn pads," which contain salicylic acid that can burn not just the dead skin of the corn but also the normal skin around it. This, in turn, can result in inflammation and/or infection. The other treatments mentioned here are likely to be effective against corns without risking such damage to healthy skin.
If a corn hurts by itself, even when it's not being bothered by shoes, it's likely that you've also developed bursitis, an inflammation of the area around a joint. For temporary relief -- while you're looking for those new shoes -- try soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes, and then applying moisturizing cream to the offending area (if you have circulatory problems or are diabetic, however, consult a doctor first.
Don't try to scrape or cut off a corn yourself. You're likely to simply wound yourself, causing bleeding and increased pain and inviting infection.
Sometimes the problem causing foot pain can be as simple as dry skin. Continue to the next page to find out how to handle this situation.
To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:
- Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
- How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.