Corns, Calluses, and Blisters: What Are The Causes, Symptoms and Treatments?

What are Corns?

A corn is a unique shaped dead skin that forms on the skin surfaces, particularly the fingers or toes. More so, the corns can sometimes occur on the thick skin areas of the feet and the hands. The corns develop when the skin experiences irregular pressure, thereby leading to gradual widening. If the affected area experiences irritating stimulation, even after surgical removal, then the condition might persist. The common forms of irritants that can lead to the formation of corns include tight shoes, wet clothing, lack of hygiene, and more. There are various types of corns. The common ones include:

  • Hard corns – these the most popular types of corns, and they occur in concentrated sections of the skin. Usually, they occur with locations of the skin that have large surface areas.
  • Soft corns – the soft corns tend to be grey or white in texture. Typically, the soft corns occur between the toes.
  • Seed corns – the seed corns are small and will mostly occur around the bottom of the foot.

Left unchecked or unresolved, the corns can become thick and lead to unnecessary pain. The development corns generally decrease when an individual puts on the correct footwear. Moreover, the recovery process improves when the individual avoids straining the toe area and compressing of the toes. People who have corns are also advised to avoid high heeled shoes, that cause the toes to arc forward, and can lead to ankle complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Corns

The hart component at the center of the corn has the same appearances as a barley seed.  Typically, the unusual shape of the corn can increase pressure at the tip, thereby leading to increased pain. More so, the hard corns are particularly painful for individuals who have insensitive skin due to damaged nerves. The location of the soft corn tends to be different from those of hard corns. The hard corns will only occur on the dry skin surfaces. Furthermore, the soft corns often stay moist, thereby maintaining the moisture of the surrounding skin area.

 What is a Callus?

A callus is a thick skin area that develops due to factors such as pressure, friction, and irritation. Since repeated constant is not imperative, the calluses usually occur around the feet due to poorly fitting footwear. Even though the calluses can be unsightly, they are generally not harmful to the body. However, left unchecked and the calluses might lead to several secondary health complications. Some of these health complications including infection and skin ulcers.

Causes of a Callus

The leading cause of a callus will be the exposure of the skin to friction over a long duration of time. For instance, one might develop calluses on the fingers of their dominant hand due to excessive writing. Furthermore, another causing factor would be using musical instruments such as guitars regularly. Calluses might develop on the main fingers that are used to hold the string down when playing the musical instruments. Furthermore, people who participate in regular weightlifting are also prone to getting calluses. Ofcourse, calluses can also form on your feet when you are wearing footwear that is too tight. So it’s better to wear footwear that leaves some room.

Treatment for Corns and Calluses

Usually, the calluses and corns will resolve themselves, mainly once you address the leading cause of the irritation. The treatments for both health complications are also similar in many ways. Furthermore, the treatment process might also involve the use of keratolytic agents that help to break down the corns. Other useful treatment methods include the use of pumice stones or shaving using silicon sandpaper.

It’s also important to note that people who have diabetes have unique skin challenges. The main reason behind this issue is that diabetes affects the performance of the capillaries. The capillaries are small blood vessels which are found on the skin. As such, thickening of the skin compromises the performance of the capillaries, and their ability to supply nutrients to the skin.

The stiff nature of a callus and the irritating factor may cause tearing of body tissue or even bleeding. In most cases, bleeding in the callus might be a symptom of diabetes, particularly before the blood sugar levels increase. To treat calluses and corns, the following steps are recommended:

  • Soak the callus or corn in some water – perform this process for an average of 10 minutes until the skin area softens. Consider using clean water to avoid contaminating the affected area with bacteria or germs. A good recommendation would be to pour some mild disinfectants such as Listerine or Dettol into the soaking water.
  • Remove the corn or callus using a pumice stone – consider cleaning the pumice stone by using some disinfectant and some hot water. Once clean, use the stone to file the affected area until you achieve the best results.
  • Avoid removing excessive skin – filing away excessively at the skin can lead to secondary damage and pain to the affected area. As such, ensure that you conduct the filing process in relation to the nature of the injury.
  • Use moisturizing lotion or cream to heal the affected area – look for moisturizing cream that contains salicylic acid or urea. These are components that work well in the treatment of blistered areas and injuries. Ensure that you invest in products that don’t cause additional irritation, or that can lead to secondary irritation.
  • Use padding – to ensure that the calluses are safe from further injury during outdoor activity, ensure that your feet are well-padded. For instance, ensure that you wear proper footwear during extreme outdoor activities. Furthermore, consider investing in donut shaped adhesive pads that are available at local drug stores.
  • Keep the toenails kept – having long toenails can affect the structure of the legs and the ability to fit into conventional shoes. As such, keeping the toes trimmed is essential over time to help relieve pressure and pain on the affected area.

Self-Care and Prevention Methods for Corns and Calluses

Various treatment approaches are useful for eliminating and managing these foot health complications. In cases where the calluses and corns cause extreme pain or are chronic, you might require medical attention. Other self-help techniques to consider include:

  • Wearing protective gear – wearing protective is imperative when working on environmental projects. In particular, you need the equipment when engaging in intense physical activity such as gardening, chemical work, racquet sports, and more.
  • Putting on shoes that provide the perfect feet, with sufficient room for the toes to move around. Such shoes help to reduce the pressure and strain that occurs around the toe area. Over time, the corns and calluses should dry up, thereby easing the healing process.
  • Cushioning the affected area with moleskin to release the pressure on the affected area. Typically, this process might take a few days, as the calluses shrink or fall out. You can also make a DIY pad using foam to aid the healing process. A significant portion of pharmacies sells OTC products to protect the calluses and corns from stress.

What is a Blister?

A blister is a small collection of body fluid that occurs on the upper layers of the skin. Usually, the leading cause of the blister is a significant force such as burning, freezing, chemical exposure, and more. A considerable portion of blisters often contains a clear fluid, typically plasma or serum. The fluid helps to cushion the tissue underneath the skin and prevent further damage. To allow for optimal healing, it’s vital that you avoid tampering with the blister. Popping the skin area can expose the top layer, thereby affecting the ability of the skin to health properly.

Causes of Blisters

There are various common causes of blisters. The causes usually differ, and so does the extent of the injury. Among some of the common causes of health complication include:

Friction or Rubbing

Any excessive rubbing or force directed towards the skin can lead to blisters. This type of blister is popular, especially after wearing tight shoes for long durations. Furthermore, the blisters will commonly occur around the feed and hands. These are extremities of the body that are prone to pain, especially when engaging in day to day activities. The blisters are also standard on damp skin, as when compared to dry or soaked skin.

Extreme Temperature

A blister caused by burning is also an excellent indicator of the level of burning experienced by the individual. The first and second-degree burns may lead to blisters on the skin. Typically, the second-degree burns are the primary causes of blisters, whereas the first-degree injuries lead to injuries after several days. Moreover, the blisters can also occur on the feet and hands due to tissue damage caused by frostbite.

Chemical Exposure

In some cases, the skin blister occurs when the skin is exposed to dangerous chemicals, solvents, and even detergents. Some of the common chemicals that lead to blisters include urushiol and nickel sulfate. The blisters might occur due to an allergic reaction from an insect sting or insect bite. Furthermore, various chemical warfare chemicals, such as vesicants, can lead to the occurrence of painful blisters.

Crush or Pinching

These are powerful forces that cause extreme stress around the skin area. As such, they lead to the formation of a blister, when the blood vessels close to the skin rupture. Following this, blood leaks in between the tears and layers of skin, thereby leading to a blister.

Treatment Methods for Blisters

Corns, calluses, and blisters are injuries that share almost similar characteristics. However, the nature of most blister injuries often differs due to various factors. Among some of the most recommended treatment methods include:

  • Cover the affected area loosely with a bandage – placing the bandage loosely is key in aiding recovery and preventing further damage to the skin area. Ensure that you clean the bandage to avoid re-infecting the affected area.
  • Use padding – you can also protect delicate areas such as the toes using padded components. The padding helps to reduce the pressure and strain that occurs on sensitive areas of the feet. Consider investing in products such as custom orthotics or OTC products.
  • Never pop or drain the blister – playing around with the wound can lead to increased damage and pain to the injured area. However, if the blister is large, then consider draining it to reduce any discomfort issues. You can pop the blister by using a sterilized and sharp object such as alcohol. Following this, use the needle to pierce the blister and allow the fluid to drain.
  • Ensure the affected area stays clean – once you drain the blister, clean the affected area using some water, and apply disinfecting cream. Avoid playing around or tampering the skin area around the blister to avoid causing further injury to the affected area.

NB: As the healing process for the blister continues, evaluate the wound for any sign of infection. If you come across any swelling or redness, then reserve an appointment with a general practitioner.

When Should I Visit a Podiatrist?

If you come across any foot care complications that don’t resolve over time, then consider consulting a general practitioner. More so, if the foot health complication persists through the treatment process, then also consider secondary help. Consult with the podiatrist regarding the options of the treatment process. Furthermore, consider consulting an NHS podiatrist, who has experience in handling such similar cases. The good thing is that only in rare cases do these health complications lead to adverse secondary or chronic health complications.

Overall

Body complications such as corns, calluses, and blisters are common and can easily affect any individual. The corns and calluses are conditions with almost similar characteristics. However, the corns tend to be a thickened skin area, while the callus forms due to irritation. A blister forms when the skin exposed to high or freezing temperatures. Wearing tight footwear are common causes of these particular health complications. Preventing and managing all these conditions relies on your ability to get proper footwear and practice the correct lifestyle habits. Consider visiting a podiatrist in the rare case that the health conditions persists past the standard recovery times.

Sarah Shawman

is the webmistress of Footwear 4 Workers.

She started this website out of displeasure with the fact that there are so few good online resources especially dedicated to the 99%: working people. Having suffered from work related plantar fasciitis herself, she set out on a mission to help others.

She updated this page on and will continue to update it as time goes on.

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