Corns and Calluses: Causes and Remedies
Some of the most persistent and annoying conditions affecting the feet are corns and calluses, and these things can affect millions of people each year. It is essential that you understand the causes, in order to prevent them from developing in the future, as well as effective remedies.
Corns and Calluses
One of the most heavily used part of our body is our feet, because they are the prime force behind our movements. This means that our feet often receive a lot of strain, weight and impacting forces, whether through running, walking, standing, or keeping our balance. Corns and calluses develop for similar reasons – excessive friction or pressure on a part of our skin. This results in the hard, thickened skin of a corn or a callus. What most people don’t realize, however, is that corns and calluses are not the same thing. A corn is usually smaller than a callus, and is essentially an area of inflamed skin surrounding a hard center. Corns often develop on unexpected parts of the feet, such as the areas between the toes or the top of the feet. Corns can be painful when you push on them. Calluses are usually larger and can be found on the bottom of the feet, as well as the hands. Calluses are usually not painful.
The cause behind corns and calluses is the dead skin that is caused by excessive pressure or friction. When sweat is trapped in the space developing a corn, the hard center will soften. Calluses are actually helpful in many ways, as the layers of dead, hardened skin can protect the bottom of the foot from cuts and punctures, just as it does on the hands. Repetitive use of tools or activities can cause calluses, and these areas of the body are meant as a protective shield. Corns and calluses also tend to develop more readily in diabetic patients, as their blood flow to the extremities is already limited, making it easier for dead skin to accumulate there. Although they aren’t particularly dangerous, many people believe that corns and calluses are unsightly, so they seek to eliminate them in any way possible. There are many pharmaceutical approaches, but natural remedies have been in place for far longer, and have shown their value in various parts of the world.
Home Remedies for Corns and Calluses
Lemon: When you are suffering from a painful corn, most of that discomfort is coming from the hard center of the corn, which is constantly pressed on, causing even more inflammation. Lemon juice, however, is packed with antioxidants and natural soothing agents that can soften the hardened skin. Eventually, the hard center of the corn will fall out, relieving the pain.
Onion: Onions are packed with nutrients and powerful acids that can neutralize infections and stimulate the immune system, but onion juice can also smooth hardened skin and cause dead skin to flake off. In the case of a corn or callus, you can apply an onion directly to the affected site and cover it with a bandage. Within 1-2 days, this should cause the callus to soften and fall off.
Castor Oil: If you are suffering from a case of corns or calluses, one of the best remedies you can turn to is castor oil. This old-time remedy for skin conditions of all kinds can effectively soften the callus or corn, when mixed with hot, soapy water. Applying a pumice stone to the corn or callus following a hot water soak with castor oil can quickly and painlessly reduce the callus.
Vitamin E: When it comes to natural antioxidants that can improve the health of our skin in countless ways, vitamin E may be your best bet. You can directly apply concentrated vitamin E by emptying a gel capsule, or you can simply increase the amount of vitamin E that you intake in your body. This will help to boost the health of the skin and eliminate dead skin. Vitamin E-rich foods include sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, broccoli and squash.
Baking Soda: This powerful natural remedy is particularly good for exfoliating the skin and ensuring that healthy, oxygenated skin is protected. You can soak your feet in baking soda mixed with warm water, and this will soften the calluses. After helping the skin be sloughed off, baking soda will also help protect the exposed skin from fungal or bacterial infections, which can be common following the removal of calluses and corns.
Garlic: As one of the best antioxidant substances that we know of, garlic remains an important remedy for so many health conditions, including corns and calluses. Garlic’s powerful acids and organic compounds, particularly allicin, will help to improve the health of the feet and eliminate inflammation. Garlic is also antibacterial in nature, so it will protect the feet and toes from infections as well.
Massage: By massaging any part of the body, it can induce the flow of blood to that area of the body. Rich, oxygenated blood can help to shed dead skin cells by pushing fresh, healthy skin cells to the surface. Massaging can also soften the hardened skin covering the callus, making it easier to slough and remove.
Licorice: While many people only think of licorice as a type of sweet, it actually plays an important part in many aspects of human health. For the treatment of corns and calluses, a paste can be made by mixing licorice powder with ground mustard seed and water. This paste should be applied directly to the corns and calluses. The rich blend of antioxidants and other healing compounds found in licorice can speed the sloughing process of the dead skin and can push out the hard center of the corn.
Papaya: This rather incredible fruit can deliver all sorts of important health benefits for those who regularly consume it, but it can also be a topical application for corns and calluses. Simply extract the juice from a papaya and apply it gently to the site of the calluses and corns. This will help the dead skin fall off, and also dry up the area of the skin, due to its astringent properties, speeding up the healing process.
Aspirin: Most people associate aspirin with headaches and pain, but it is also an effective blood-pressure reducer, commonly known as a blood-thinner. This can improve the flow of blood to extremities, like the hands and feet, where corns and calluses are more common. Using aspirin in moderation can help new skin cells develop, causing dead layers of skin to fall off.
Epsom Salts: While this isn’t the fastest remedy, it is one of the most effective. Pouring Epsom salts into a bath of hot water, soak your calluses or corns for 10-15 minutes. The blend of minerals and organic compounds in Epsom salts will help soften the hardened surface of the foot, and make it much easier to use a file to gradually wear down the callus. Do this slowly, however, as you do not want to dig too deeply into the foot, which opens you up to infections and other complications.