Corns (cont.)

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Why do corns and calluses develop?

Hyperkeratosis simply means thickening of the skin. This thickening occurs as a natural defense mechanism that strengthens the skin in areas of friction or excessive pressure. Abnormal anatomy of the feet, such as hammer toe or other toe deformities, can lead to corn or callus formation as can bony prominences in the feet. Footwear that is too tight or that exerts friction at specific points can also cause skin thickening that leads to corns and calluses. Abnormalities in gait or movement that result in increased pressure to specific areas can also be the cause.

It can be hard to know why finger corns develop since they often don't appear at sites of obvious pressure. Finger calluses may develop in response to using tools, playing musical instruments, or using work equipment that exerts pressure at specific sites.

What are risk factors for corns and calluses?

As mentioned above, any condition or activity that results in increased friction over the fingers or toes can lead to the development of corns or calluses. People of all ages can be affected. Some of these risk factors are

  • abnormalities in anatomy of the feet or toes;
  • abnormalities in gait;
  • bunions;
  • poorly fitting footwear;
  • using equipment, tools, or instruments that exert pressure on specific locations on the fingers;
  • certain occupations, such as farmers or garden workers.

What are symptoms and signs of corns and calluses?

Corns and calluses are hardened, thick areas of skin. The area may be dry and may appear to be scaly or flaky. Corns and calluses can sometimes cause pain or discomfort if they interfere with walking or other activity, but they are typically painless.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2012

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Corns - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your corns?
Corns - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your corns?
Corns and Calluses - Seeing a Doctor Question: If you have corns or calluses, what were your reasons for seeking medical help?
Corns and Calluses - Prevention Question: How do you prevent recurrences of corns or calluses? Have you changed the type or style of shoes you wear?
Corns and Calluses - Risks Question: Are your shoes too tight? Explain the reasons why you think you developed corns or calluses.

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