Corns are one of the most common foot ailments . They are the result of an 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 corns then 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 (flat-footed, abnormal gait) or deformities (bunions, 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, however, is the choice footwear. We too often choose our shoes by appearance and do not pay enough attention to a good fit and comfort.
How to prevent corns?
The best way to prevent corns is to avoid the above mentioned causes as much as possible. 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. 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 of corns are shoes that are the wrong size or shape. Wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole that do not rub are the ideal. If you want to be sure of the right fit, ask a shop assistant for help. Since your feet slightly swell during the day, preferentially 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 of developing corns 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 foot-wear 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 not adapted for long time wear include high heels, pointed-toe heels, and high arched boots.
- Don’t wear badly fitting socks, no socks or no foot-wear at all.
- Try to avoid prolonged periods of standing.
Dunn JE. Prevalence of Foot and Ankle Conditions in a Multiethnic Community Sample of Older Adults. American Journal of Epidemiology 2004 ; 159 : 491–498.