Summary of Chapter 15
Life is about enjoying the journey, not about the individual footprints along the way.– Dr. Suzanne Levine
A corn is a round, hard, thickened area of skin on the top of, the tip of, or between your toes. It looks very different from your normal skin and, as the name implies, is round and yellow like a corn kernel. With a central core that you can’t see, it descends into your toe to a cone-shaped point, putting pressure on the normal cells in its way.
Though most corns are yellow, those that are inflamed can have a reddish hue. Others can take on the color of your skin. In some cases, especially for women of color, you can get hypo-discoloration, which is diminished color on the corns so that they appear lighter than the skin around them. In others, the pressure on your toes can cause darker discoloration around or on a corn– called hyper-pigmentation.
Typically, corns crop up on non-weight-bearing areas and there are two types. Hard corns are found on top of your toes and are, well, hard. Soft corns are found between your toes – they almost always prefer a spot between your fourth and fifth toes – and are kept soft from perspiration.
If you came to my office complaining about a painful corn, the first question I’d ask is, “When did it start to hurt?” Most of the time, you’d have done something different – bought a new pair of shoes (that were probably too tight), tried a new exercise class, taken a long walk, started a new job, or undertaken some other activity that exposed your toes to extra friction and pressure. Like calluses, corns are your body’s response to friction and pressure, and they grow in order to try to protect both your skin and the bone beneath it from bruises and injuries. When this happens, there’s an increase of blood circulation to the area that speeds up the growth of corn cells. The bigger your corns get, the more painful they become.Though tight shoes can exacerbate this condition, footwear can’t take all the blame. Corns are hereditary. Need some proof? Mother Teresa had corns and she certainly didn’t wear stylish shoes (See photo in “Bunion” chapter). If you have contracted toes (also known as hammertoes), misshapen toes, or bony abnormalities between the toes, you’re prone to painful corns. (Learn more in the “Hammertoes” chapter.) This is because your toes can’t lie flat within the confines of a shoe so they constantly rub against its inside, causing the pressure and friction that encourage corns to grow.
In this chapter of My Feet Are Killing Me Dr. Levine answers:
- What causes corns?
- How do you stop a corn from hurting?
- Dr. Levine’s Don’ts
- Diabetes and your feet
- Real Patient Recap: A patient discovers firsthand how life changing a little TLC can be, and now enjoys her days much more.