Calluses are yellow patches of hard skin that form over areas of pressure or friction on the sole of someone’s foot.
Corns are pieces of hard skin that form a cone in the callus of a person’s foot that then digs into the skin.
Cracked heels are tears in the skin that happen because the callus reduces your skin’s integrity.
All three these conditions are caused by pressure or rubbing that occur in shoes when a person walks or runs. Continuous rubbing and pressure causes the skin to become damaged. The skin tries to protect itself by adding more layers of itself over the parts where damage has taken place. The extra skin layers added to the soles of your feet causes more pressure leading to the skin adding more layers to the already thickened part. Podiatrists call this the cycle of trauma.
It is this cycle that cause corns to form and prevents them from going away permanently.
Signs and Symptoms
Calluses may feel hard. They have a yellow or brown appearance and may be painful. Calluses can be large a occur on the ball of your feet, heels or side of your big toe.
Corns are smaller, they appear on high pressure areas of the foot i.e. under the ball of your feet, the tips of your toes or tops of your toes.
Cracked heels, occur over the bottom or sides of your heels. they are painful and can get infected with bacterial or fungal agents.
Your podiatrist will often diagnose corns, callus and cracks by their appearance on your feet.
After diagnosis the podiatrist will remove them with a scalpel blade.
Moisturizing your feet regularly can help to reduce the hardness and thickness of the skin. It will also help the skin stay soft and moist preventing excessive skin hardening.
Medical devices like insoles, foot orthotics or silicone appliances can help reduce pressure to prevent the hard skin from coming back.
These conditions may not be life threatening but shouldn’t be ignored especially if patients are diabetic.
Areas of pressure in diabetic patient or people with arthritis can lead to foot ulcers that may not heal.