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A corn is a horny mass of thickened, hardened skin with a conical shape. They are caused by hard, dense skin on the feet. Corns are also sometimes found on the hands.

Corns are layers of hard, dense skin that builds up from a number of causes including friction and pressure from ill-fitting shoes, weakened arches or tight fitting hosiery. Corns on the hands can be caused by using a shovel or broom as well as sporting equipment such as bats and gymnasium equipment. Corns do not have roots under the skin. Corns are usually found over toe joints and between the toes. Friction is the main cause of corns developing. They are the most common foot problem.

There are two types of corns:

Hard Corns
These are usually small (usually pea-sized or slightly larger), well-defined, elevated conical areas on the skin. They consist of a central core surrounded by an overgrowth of skin. The skin is shiny and yellowish or greyish in colour. Hard corns occur on bony protuberances especially on areas of the feet, which are subject to pressure or friction. They may appear on the ends of the middle toes, the outside of the fifth toe and the bulb of the big toe. Shoes that are too small for the feet, or wearing high heels are two of the main causes. These corns can be very painful particularly when wearing footwear, as there is pressure on the central core of the corn with every step. This central core is very sensitive to the touch.

Soft Corns
These are slightly raised above the skin surface and are whitish in colour and found mainly between or on the sides of the toes. They are caused by pressure of the joint of one toe pressing against another, particularly if shoes are worn which are too small and force the toes together in the front of the shoe. The constant friction may result in a soft corn and the most common area affected is between the fourth and fifth toes. Moisture and the pressure of the surrounding toes keep them damp and irritated. The soft corn can be quite painful particularly when wearing shoes.

1. Ask your Pharmacist for advice. Remove the causes of the pressure and friction. Wear shoes which have a broad-toe area and which distribute the weight evenly over the foot. A flat-heeled shoe is best with an arch support. Your Pharmacy may stock special "health shoes".
2. If your feet are affected soak them in warm water to which has been added a little bath salts.
3. Use a pad over the corn to help stop the pressure and friction. Make sure that you use the correct pad e.g., soft corns have a special soft corn pad. Some pads contain a product usually salicylic acid to help burn the corn away. Soak the feet first for about 10 minutes in warm water to help soften the outer layer of skin on the corn or callous.
4. A pumice stone can be used to help rub any hard skin away. Use it in the bath when the skin is wet. Ask your Pharmacist for suggestions.
5. There are cream and a lotion available to help keep the skin soft. This should be used regularly on any area where you have hard skin.

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