Corns, which are also known as heloma, are a form of hyperkeratosis, which is a small area of overgrowth of the skin. Pressure and friction on specific areas of the foot cause the skin to become over stimulated and therefore thicker, to prevent the foot from being damaged. Corns are different to other areas of hard skin or callus on the feet because they have a nucleus, which is usually a small inverted cone, pressing into the skin and this can cause discomfort and pain.
There are a number of different types of corn, with hard corns (heloma durum) being the most common and normally found over toe joints.
Soft corns (heloma molle) occur between the toes, most commonly between the forth and fifth toes. They are white and soggy, with an indented centre, and are usually caused because moisture from perspiration cannot evaporate and so has to be absorbed into the skin.
Seed corns (heloma milliare) are small clusters of corns which form within hard skin (callus) on the sole of the foot. This type of corn doesn’t usually cause excessive pain.
Corns are not a disease of the skin, and only need to be treated when they start to cause discomfort and pain. As a Foot Health Practitioner, when treating corns, I would aim to remove the nucleus of the corn and the callus surrounding it. This would reduce the pressure on the foot and therefore the discomfort and pain associated with the corn. I would then advise my client that well-fitting footwear can reduce the likelihood of the condition returning.