If you're desperate to know how to get rid of corns, you understand how painful these skin bumps can be — which means you need relief ASAP. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get rid of corns naturally, as well as a few methods that involve consulting your doctor. Once you learn what causes corns, you'll be less likely to get them in the future as you'll know how to prevent corns from forming.
What are corns?
Corns aren't a symptom of disease but rather a build-up of skin that your body creates to protect itself against friction and pressure. They're similar to a callus, but there are some notable differences between corns and calluses. First, corns are smaller than calluses and often have a dense center where most of the friction or pressure occurs; calluses are more likely to be evenly spread out across an area and don't have a center. Second, corns are often painful, while calluses rarely cause discomfort. Third, corns usually develop on sections of the feet that don't bear weight, like the tops and sides of toes. Calluses generally form on the soles of people's feet, but they can develop anywhere that's exposed to long-term friction, such as a guitarist's fingers or a gymnast's hands.
There are three main types of corns: hard, soft, and seed. Hard corns are the most common, and they're what you usually see in pictures of corns. Typically, they are small, soft, and stiff, and they're found within a larger area of hardened skin. Soft corns are, as the name implies, softer and squishier. You can normally find them between the toes. Lastly, seed corns tend to form on the soles and can come in clusters or by themselves.
In some cases, small corns may not cause any discomfort. However, if they're left untreated, over time a red black or brown discoloration can develop beneath the corn, which is the result of bleeding between the normal skin and the thick skin of the corn. It's rare, but in some cases those two layers of skin can separate, exposing the foot to potential infection. This is especially a problem if the person with a corn has diabetes, which is why it requires immediate medical attention.
The process of diagnosing whether someone has corns is usually very simple: A doctor can tell just by examining the foot whether it's a corn or some other issue. Once a healthcare professional has determined that it is indeed a corn, he or she will diagnose whether it's the result of an ill-fitting shoe or a foot abnormality, like a physical deformity.
How to Get Rid of Corns Naturally
If your corn isn't bothering you, it may be OK to just leave it alone, the American Podiatric Medical Association says. However, it's still a good idea to figure out what exactly is causing your corns. In many cases, the issue is caused by someone squeezing his or her toe into a shoe that's too narrow. When this is the case, the corn may simply go away if the person finds better-fitting shoes.
For more difficult corns, soaking the foot may be the answer. Busy people who struggle to find a few minutes for self-care can even use this as the perfect excuse for a relaxing foot bath. Here's how to get rid of corns naturally in five easy steps.
- Fill a bowl with warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes. Some people may find that adding apple cider vinegar or baking soda and lemon juice helps.
- Dip a pumice stone in the water and slowly file away the corn using small circular motions. If the pumice stone is too rough on your foot, use a nail file, emery board, or rough washcloth to exfoliate the area. People with diabetes should not use a pumice stone, as this can lead to infections. Instead, consult your doctor or podiatrist for treatment options.
- Keep the area moisturized with lotion. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for formulas containing salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea, as these ingredients will soften corns over time. We recommend Bare Urea 40 Percent Plus Salicylic Acid Cream ($17.99, Amazon).
- Prevent further irritation with foot pads for corns. These can be worn with your shoes and prevent your corns from getting worse. We like the ZenToes Soft Foam Callus Cushions ($13.77 for 48, Amazon) because they're waterproof.
- Opt for over-the-counter medications if all else fails. Be aware: Corn-removing pads often have very high concentrations of salicylic acid, which can irritate your foot. If you have diabetes, do not try OTC products for corn removal. Talk to your doctor instead.
How to Get Rid of Corns With a Doctor's Help
Nothing beats talking to a professional about your health concerns, so make an appointent with your doctor about your corns if you have diabetes or your corns aren't responding to at-home treatment. In some cases, a doctor will need to refer you to a podiatrist who can conduct X-rays to see what's causing the corns.
Infected corns may require antibiotics, which a doctor can prescribe. The podiatrist may also remove larger corns at your appointment, thus saving you the trouble of having to do it yourself. However, if you don't address the issues causing your corns, the doctor's hard work will all be for nothing.
How to Prevent Corns From Happening
Now that you've gotten rid of your corns, there are a few simple steps to follow to prevent new corns from forming. It may be hard to change your bad habits at first, but it will be worth it in the long run to no longer have to deal with corns. Here are three easy tips you can remember to prevent corns.
- Buy shoes that fit properly. Too-tight shoes are one of the most common causes of corns, so finding a pair that doesn't pinch your toes is key to preventing future corns from forming. Make sure the toe area is wide enough for your feet, and take your footwear to a cobbler to have it stretched if need be. To save money, we recommend loosening shoes at home with the CHRAINTI shoe stretcher ($19.99, Amazon).
- Invest in thick socks that will absorb foot pressure. Socks should be heavy enough that they provide adequate padding, but keep in mind that this may make shoes more snug. To prevent that from happening, you may need to stretch your shoes a bit more than expected.
- Take care of your feet. This involves moisturizing and exfoliating your feet on a regular basis to slough away dead skin cells. Also, make sure you trim toe nails frequently, as long toe nails can push up against the front of your shoe and cause unnecessary pressure.
Unsightly corns can cause embarrassment, but they don't have to! You can get rid of corns once and for all in a few simple steps — and keep your feet comfortably corn-free.