06 Dec Seed Corn of the Foot
Seed corn foot (clavi or heloma) is a circular patch of skin that has been hardened and discolored because of repeated pressure or friction. The medical term for the process is Hyperkeratosis and is caused by pressure on any part of the foot, but mainly around the edge of the heel or ball of the foot. Seed corn foot differs from callus in that corn is conical/circular, while a callus is generally flat and diffused.
The most common reason why corns develop is ill-fitting shoes. It is not a severe condition but can become painful and irritating. High heels are also known to cause strain on feet when worn for extended periods. Narrow pointy-toed footwear also increases the risk of the feet experiencing pressure at the edges, and also press the toes closely together, causing corns to develop between them. Not wearing socks can expose the feet to unnecessary friction, especially with ill-fitted shoes. Socks that are too tight can also lead to developing seed corns.
Bunions, which are bony, abnormal bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe and hammertoe, and other kinds of deformities like bony spurs can cause corns too.
People who are on their feet for most of their time are likely to develop corns given the excessive or sustained pressure/friction on the sole. Obesity, on the other hand, can also cause an increase in pressure on the soles of the feet, which leads to the formation of corns and calluses. Loss of fatty protection in the skin, as seen with old age, exposes the bones in the feet to more pressure and hence increases their risk of corns and calluses.
There are four varieties of Foot corns:
- Hard corns (small spherical patches of dead skin with a central core),
- Soft corns (appear between the toes with a thin surface),
- Seed corns (bumpy, tiny and tender and generally appear on the sole), and
- Heloma corns (in the middle of the fourth and fifth toe, more painful than the rest).
The affected area of the skin appears red and inflamed, especially at the edges of the corn, which are generally gray at the center and yellow at the rim.
Home treatment of seed corns includes soaking your feet in warm salty water to soften the skin that forms the corn, followed by gently using a pumice stone to remove the patch of hardened skin. Topical mixtures can be added in that water. Do not scrub too hard as this could tear off the skin beneath the corn and lead to an infection. If the level of pain is unbearable, consult a podiatrist. They will properly remove corns and dress the scar if the skin is broken. They will also address the underlying cause of the problem to prevent recurrence of corns, by recommending padding or special footwear, etc.
Poorly managed or ignored seed corns may cause deeper levels of the skin breakdown, resulting in wounds and ulcers that can severely damage the feet. This is especially concerning in people with diabetes or with a compromised immune system.