Getting a Little Corn-y

The time has come, my dear NYC podiatry patients, to talk about that most lowly, yet annoyingly painful foot malady: the dreaded corn.  It may be small or thin depending on the location, but don’t underestimate its power to ruin a good day and make an otherwise fashionable pair of shoes virtually unwearable.  So what’s going on here, and what, in the name of all that is good and merciful, can be done?

Our feet, to paraphrase Shakespeare, are subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as well as the friction and shear of everyday walking.  And often times, the forces of standing and weight-bearing build up around prominent areas of the feet, especially areas of bony prominence, as the body attempts to protect the area with extra layers of skin.  Some skin types seem to be especially susceptible.  On the bottom of the foot, layers of skin may build up as a callus, particularly under the big toe joint and second metatarsal head, and it’s no coincidence that these are the most common locations a diabetic foot ulcer develops.  On the top of the foot, layers of thick skin, known as a corn (gasp!) develop over areas such as the fifth toe and second toe.  As these layers of skin build up, the pressure exerted on the bottom or top of the foot can be a real source of pain.

So what can be done?  The corns and calluses can be debrided, preferably by your NYC podiatrist.  Don’t tell anyone I said so, but healthy patients can have layers of skin shaved at a salon that is trusted to maintain proper levels of antisepsis.  The skin can even be gently exfoliated after the shower using a pumice stone or emery board, and a good moisturizer or a debriding agent, such as one that contains urea or lactic acid will aid in keeping the skin layers supple and thin.  And if the corns and calluses are problematic despite regular debridement, then more permanent surgical solutions are available to correct the underlying bony deformity.  However any patient with a history of diabetes or circulation impairment should never attempt to shave any corn or callus with any implement, especially with the use of anything metallic.

So if you, or someone you love, has a corn, don’t delay.  Help is just around the corner.  If you are somewhere in the vicinity of Park and 36th in midtown.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson