Calluses and Corns and Bunions, Oh my!

While we’re all familiar with Dorothy’s worst fears, no one will ever really know what lurked inside of those ruby slippers.  If Dorothy had calluses, corns or bunions, as many people do, her trip down the Yellow Brick Road might not have been so wonderful.

Calluses and Corns and Bunions

So what’s the difference between calluses, corns, and bunions?  People mix them up all the time, so let’s clear it up now; calluses and corns are basically the same things; thickening of skin as a result of constant pressure or friction.  The skin reacts to constant irritation and tries to provide protection by creating a thicker skin.  The difference is their location.

When an area of thickened skin is on a toe, whether it’s on top over a knuckle, on the side of a toe or at the end, it’s called a corn.  Corns can form from shoe pressure on the knuckles of your toes.  They also commonly form on your pinky toe because of tight or tapering shoes pressing on the knuckle.  Corns can also form on the side of a toe or between two toes, due to pressure.  Tight shoes can contribute to the development of these corns and could cause them to be very painful.

What are Calluses?

Calluses are thickenings of skin on the bottoms of your feet, usually under the ball of your feet.  They usually occur because of the structure of your foot, or as a result of the way it functions.  If you are putting too much pressure under one bone and not balancing the weight evenly across the ball of your foot, you can develop calluses under areas of excessive pressure.

Bunions, on the other hand, are bony prominences that stick out behind the big toes and cause the big toe to angle toward the second toe.  Bunions occur over many years as a result of a muscle imbalance that slowly moves the big toe toward the second toe, and the metatarsal bone behind it moves out the other way.  A bunion is a normal bone but in an abnormal position.  And while tight shoes can make bunions hurt, they are not the cause of bunions; a popular misconception.

Calluses, corns, and bunions can be painful but are often successfully treated without the need for surgery.  Removing pressure from the areas can alleviate pain from all of these conditions.  Wider and deeper shoes can relieve pressure from the bunions and corns.  Pads can also help distribute pressure away from the areas.  Painful calluses can be relieved with donut pads to take pressure off of the area.  Custom orthotics will also distribute weight more evenly across the bottom of your foot, reducing pressure points.  When conservative care is not enough to relieve your discomfort, surgery may be beneficial.

If your ruby slippers aren’t fitting comfortably because of calluses, corns or bunions, you might want to click your heels together three times, and be off to see one of our wonderful doctors at Kansas City Foot and Ankle, because, because, because, because, because, because of the wonderful things we do!