Corns fall under the general category of calluses. The term – calluses – is used to refer to a section of the skin on the body that has become tough and or relatively thick due to constant continuous pressure, irritation or repeated friction. Usually, corns are not harmful but they can lead to other medical problems and complications. These medical problems include infections and skin ulcerations.
- Corns are common on glabrous or thin skin surfaces. Glabrous skin surfaces are those that are smooth in texture and lack hair.
- Corns are usually specially shaped types of callus that form on the surface of glabrous or thin skin surfaces.
- With regards to their formation, corns are usually formed when a section of the skin is exposed to pressure.
- This pressure leads the skin to trace a semi-elliptical or elliptical path in the course of the continuous rubbing motion.
Causes of Corns
There are a number of things that may cause corns. These causes are divided into physical and biological causes.
- Physical causes are mostly activities leading to corns while the biological causes are concerned with the biological processes leading to corns.
- With regards to physical causes, it is important to note that callus will form as a result of over exposure to friction.
- For instance, most people who use pens and pencils for daily writing are at a high risk of developing callus. The part of the skin where the pen or pencil rubs is most exposed top callus. String instruments are also known to cause callus.
- The fingers that are used for strumming are usually exposed to callus. The other fingers – usually from the left hand – that are used in holding the different strings on the fingerboard are also exposed to callus.
- Certain techniques used by bassists in playing their instruments also increase the level of exposure with regards to callus.
- The general causes of calluses include martial arts, playing musical instruments, racket sports, rowing sports, digging, dancing, wearing heels, bowling, and chopping wood. It is also important to note that calluses are not limited to hands and feet.
- Any section of the skin that is exposed to the same amount of pressure that leads to callus on the surface of hands and feet is equally exposed. In the event a section of the skin is exposed to friction at a high rate, the skin may fail to develop the usual protective callus but instead end up with an abrasion or a blister.
- There are two major biological causes for calluses. Usually, calluses are formed on the surface of the skin as a result of the accumulation of keratinocytes.
- These are usually the terminally differentiated cells which occur on the outermost layer of the human skin.
- This accumulation causes the skin to acquire new traits. This skin usually becomes resistant to chemical and mechanical wear and tear.
- This is usually due to the formation of a cross linked proteins. Intermediate filaments and hydrophobic keratin also form an extensive network that makes it hard to penetrate this layer of skin.
- The layer of skin is also made up of disulfide bonds and this prevents liquid from passing through it. Hormonal shifts also cause callus.
- Exposure to different toxins is also a major cause of corns.
- Here, the reaction that takes place between the outermost layer of the skin and these toxin substances leads to the formation of a hard later on the surface of the skin that is exposure to the reaction.
- One of the common toxins that are responsible for the formation of corns is arsenic. Arsenic has been known to cause thick soles and palms. Medical conditions such as syphilis have also been known to cause corns.
- Keratosis Palmaris et plantaris is a benign condition that produces corns. These corns are usually evident on the surface of the feet as well as on fingers.
- On the feet, they tend to appear on the non-weight bearing areas.
- Overexposure to sunlight is also one of the causes of callus. With age, most of the skin surfaces that have been exposed to sun tend to develop callus and corns.
Symptoms of Corns
- Usually, corns appear in a number of colors. They can be gray, yellow, or white.
- They are regular in shape and soft during the initial stages.
- As corns develop, they become hard and dark in color.
- In the event the corns form on a moist spot on the skin for instance, in between the toes, they are not firm.
- Firm corns form of the sections of skin where there is minimal or no moisture.
Corns Home Remedies
The treatment of corns is affected by a number of factors. For corns to be treated effectively there is need for extensive analysis. Note that severe corns are not treated in the same way as mild corns. Persistent corns are also not handled in the same manner as occasional corns. Usually, advanced cases of corns are handled effectively by qualified medical personnel but mild and occasional corns can be treated from home.
People who have corns and also suffer from atherosclerosis and diabetes are at higher risk of infection compared to people without these medical conditions.
People with these conditions are advised against treating corns themselves.
Due to the increased risk of infection, such people require specialized medication even when dealing with the mild and inconsistent corns. There are different ways through which people control and or treat corns from home.
One of the common ways is through using a mixture made from certain chemicals.
These include salactic film, lactic acids, salicylic, viranol, and duofilm.
In preparation of the mixtures that are used in the control and treatment of corns, a person is provided with two major options.
Here, the chemicals can be obtained through a prescription or over the counter. Obtaining the chemicals through a prescription is better and more efficient as compared to obtaining these materials over the counter.
Usually, the chemicals that are obtained over the counter to deal with corns are weaker compared to those that come through a prescription.
With this in mind, it becomes much harder for a person using over the counter acids to deal with corns as compared to a person using a prescription to deal with the same case of corns.
Using prescribed acids is also important as it ensures that the course of medication is kept on check throughout. Handling such mixing activities may be armful at times, especially with regards to cases where the person mixing these acids is not knowledgeable of the course of treatment.
Prescription acids are also important as they can be used by any person regardless of any underlying medical complication or age.
Calluses that are cause by physical activities can be controlled through avoiding the specific physical activities that lead to calluses.
As one avoids these activities, the calluses go away eventually. With time, the cessation of these physical activities causes the gradual disappearance of the calluses.
Dissolving the calluses with catalytic agents is also effective in treating and managing calluses. Salicylic acid is also used and this is usually sanded using a pumice stone.
It can also be alternatively filled down using a callus shaver. Another ways is through the paring down which usually takes place through professional guidance.
Foot health practitioners and podiatrist are usually the best professionals with regards to handling these cases.
Medically, there are a number of principles that define the treatment of corns and calluses. The best way to treat a corn is through eliminating the cause or agent of pressure.
This can be done through a number of ways. For instance, padding can be employed to take care of the pressure issue.
Ointments also come in handy with regards to handling the friction or pressure that causes corns and calluses.
Usually, these methods are employed so as to ensure the skin layers are soft and that they become east to remove. This reduces the overall pain in the entire process.
- Willow- The willow herb is composed of compounds called salicylates, which help in pain relief. These compounds also happen to be extremely acidic thus can dissolve corns. Simply place willow bark poultices carefully on the corn itself. Do not place the herb on the surrounding skin as this could cause inflammation.
- Papaya, fig and pineapple- Figs are known to contain enzymes that dissolve proteins and are therefore used to dissolve unwanted growths on the skin. Pineapple and papaya also have these same properties and a combination of the three could be deadly. To use figs, tape its pulp over a corn infection overnight after which you soak in hot water and try removing the corn after an hour.
- Wintergreen- This herb also happens to be a great source of salicylates. Just like with willow, be careful when applying the herb so that you do not trigger skin inflammations. You will have to be very careful when using this herb as its minty smell could easily entice kids. Ingesting relatively small amount of this herb could turn out being fatal.
- Castor oil- Castor oil is thick oil that has been used in herbal treatments for quite some time. Before you turn in, dip a cotton ball in Castor oil, apply it on the affected places and then tape it using some adhesive. It will only take a few days for your corns to be cured by this oil, which is readily available in most drug stores.
- Calendula- One of the products that can also be used to treat corns at home is Calendula. You can purchase the oil or moisturizing cream and regularly apply it on the areas that have been infected with corns. The best part about using Calendula is that you always end up with a long term treatment.
Prevention of corns
- There are a number of ways through which corns and calluses are prevented.
- These methods are applied with regards to one’s lifestyle as well as the nature and condition of their skin.
- Wearing comfortable shoes is advocated with regards to prevention of corns as well as calluses.
- Shoes that do not fit – ill-fitting shoes – are most likely to cause corns.
- Wearing shoes that do not cramp the toes is one of the best ways of avoiding corns. Another important way of avoiding corns and calluses is through ensuring that the height of heels is maintained at the same level for both sides of the shoe.
- If one side is higher than the other, the body weight is bound to be shifted in an imbalanced nature as a person walks.
- This shift of weight is most likely to cause a corn or callus. It is also important to ensure that the walking style is maintained at comfortable levels.
- Whenever the walking style contains an improper gait, one is more likely end up with a corn or callus.
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