If you ever had a corn on your foot, then you know how painful it can be. Corns on your feet are caused by high amounts of friction that makes your skin hard and thick. They can appear anywhere on your foot and cause a lot of pain and discomfort especially when walking. (1) Fear not as there are plenty of home remedies to deal with the problem and prevent the corns reappearing.
The processes that the human body uses to protect itself from a host ailments is nothing short of miraculous. The development of corns is just one such process that the body uses to take care of itself. Corns may be painful, but your body would much rather put you through pain than allow you to hurt yourself any further. Without the formation of a corn, then the pressure and friction that caused it would result in even worse damage to your body such as blistering or uneven bone growth in your toes.
What is the difference between a corn and a callus?
Calluses tend to appear on the sole of your feet and are characterized by a large area of hardened course skin. As with corns, they are another mechanism whereby the body is attempting to protect the inner layers of skin from repeated pressures, by encasing the foot with a hardened surface. This hardening of the skin is known as hyperkeratosis. It is more common for calluses to appear on the soles of your feet where the most pressure is applied but they can also appear wherever consistent pressure and rubbing is occurring. On the plus side, calluses tend not be painful, just particularly unpleasant to look at. See here for how to get rid of calluses.
Corns, on the other hand, are more than just unsightly. Like calluses, they are caused by excess pressure and rubbing, but unlike calluses, they tend to appear as more focused, rounded bumps at particular pressure points. They can be discolored from the other skin and acutely painful. The reason for this pain is that corns tend to have a hard core which when pressured, bears down inwards on soft tissues and nerves in the foot, generating shooting pains.
What are the causes of corns?
The common causes of calluses and corns are rather obvious. As you could expect (and if you’re reading this you probably already know), wearing shoes that are uncomfortable or the wrong size is the real problem. Wearing sandals without socks are also a common cause as are foot deformities. However, high-heeled shoes, are by far the worst offender as pressure is deliberately diverted from the heel to the toes. However, it’s even worse if you have bony feet: bony feet are especially susceptible to corns as they do not have sufficient natural cushioning to absorb the excess pressure.
Treatment of corns
The appearance of corns is due to a simple process and treating them is just as simple. The first thing that you should do if you have corns is to get rid of the pressure that caused them. Give your feet a rest from the offending shoes until you have treated the symptoms. The corns will never fully go away unless you reduce the time your feet are under pressure.
Corns are easy for doctors to treat and likewise, any decent chiropodist can also manage them. However, since they are not life-threatening, you can save a little cash and confidently use home remedies to treat them, especially if they are not extremely painful.
Home Remedies for Corns
1. Pumice Stone
A pumice stone is a rock formed from cooled lava. Its abrasive qualities make it the perfect tool for getting dry, dead skin off your feet which helps the corn to heal faster.
To get the best results from using a pumice stone, soak your feet in warm water for ten minutes to soften the hard skin then gently rub the stone over the affected area for about five minutes. When you are done, dry your feet, and then tape a cotton wool ball soaked in castor oil over the area and let it stay there overnight. The castor oil will moisten the skin and promote new skin growth. Apply the castor oil in the morning and repeat this treatment for a week or until the corn is completely gone.
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant (2) which helps eliminate corns and its antifungal properties help prevent the corn from getting infected while you treat the exposed area. There are several ways to use garlic to treat your corn, and you can choose the method that suits your schedule best. The first, and simplest process is to rub a garlic clove directly onto the area. Repeat the process every night until the corn is gone.
Another way to use garlic to get rid of corns is to cut the cloves into little pieces then add a bit of salt and turn the mixture into a paste. Place the paste onto your corn and secure it in place with a bandage. Leave the bandage in place for three days and when you remove it the corn should come off as well.
Licorice is used in rural South America to treat a wide variety of ailments including corns on your feet. Like garlic, it also is a powerful anti-oxidant (3) as well as a moisturizer. For the best results when using licorice, mix a tablespoon of ground licorice with mustard oil until you have a thick paste then apply it to the afflicted area right before bed. Bandage the foot to keep the mixture in place and keep oxygen out, removing it in the morning. Repeat the process every night until the corn is gone.
You finally have a use for that pineapple peel that you were going to throw away.
The rough exterior to this sweet fruit is loaded with enzymes that soften corns and makes them easier to remove. You only need to secure a small, square piece of pineapple peel to your corn overnight and then remove the peel in the morning, wash the area and apply some coconut oil. Repeat this process every day and your corn should be gone within a week depending on how severe it is. (4)
Turmeric is good for everything that ails you whether your problems are internal or external. Mix the turmeric with honey (which also does wonders for your skin) and applies it directly to your corns, allowing the mixture to dry. Repeat the process a few times a day until the corn is completely gone. For added healing power you can make the turmeric paste using aloe vera as well.
Pap-paw, or papaya depending on where you’re from, has a wide range of medicinal applications (5) and is loaded with enzymes that soften skin and eliminate dead, hard skin cells. They also reduce the pain and discomfort associated with corns so that you can carry on your daily business while the corn heals. Raw papaya works best so extract its juice, soak a cotton ball in it and secure the cotton ball on your corn overnight. When you remove the cotton ball in the morning, gently rub the corn with a pumice stone to exfoliate your skin and speed up the healing process. Repeat the process every day until your corn is completely healed.
Lemon is brilliant for exfoliating your skin. It is loaded with citric acid which breaks down the hard skin cells in a corn and with sustained use, it will cause the corn to simply fall off. Mix the lemon juice with Brewer’s yeast to form a thick paste that you can apply over your corn overnight.
8. Turpentine Oil
Antiseptics are vital in treating corns because they keep the corn from getting infected which aids in its recovery. Turpentine oil works particularly well because it soaks into the skin quickly and delivers its strong antiseptic qualities deep into the corn. Before you apply turpentine oil to your corn, you should rub the area with ice then pat it dry and put a bandage soaked in turpentine oil over the corn overnight. You’ll need to repeat the process over several days until the corn has healed.
9. Baking Soda
Baking soda naturally exfoliates and gets rid of dead skin. It also works as an antifungal and an antibacterial to keep your corn clean while it heals. The best way to enjoy the healing benefits of baking soda on your corns is to mix a few tablespoons of it in a basin filled with warm water. Then just sit back and soak your unhappy feet in the solution for about 20 minutes. For an extra punch to knock your corn out, make a paste with baking soda and lemon juice then apply it to a bandage that you keep on your corn overnight right after your baking soda foot soak. Do this regularly, and your corns will be a thing of the past.
10. White Vinegar
White vinegar is one the oldest and most effective home remedies for corns. It has a very high acidity which softens the hard skin on your corns and makes them easier to scrape or rub off. Keep in mind that most white vinegar is too strong for direct application so remember to dilute the vinegar with three parts of water and dab the area with a cotton bud. Leave the cotton bud bandaged over the corn overnight then apply some coconut oil on it in the morning. Your corn won’t last long with this stellar treatment.
11. Epsom Salt Foot Soak
Epsom Salt is an alkaline compound that works in a similar manner to baking soda. Use Epsom Salts in the same way that you would use baking soda to treat your corns, i.e. by letting your feet soak in a warm bath spiced up with two or three tablespoons of Epsom Salts.
12. Vitamin A, E and B
While the cause of your corns will undoubtedly be misfitting shoes, some people may be more prone to corns than others. Hyperkeratosis, the condition where hard skin builds up, has been linked to Vitamin A, E and B deficiency. (6) People who lack a balanced diet may inadvertently be raising the risk that they develop corns. To counteract this, a balanced diet is obvious but you can also take a more direct approach and use liquid vitamin tablets to treat your corns. Break open the capsules and rub the vitamin directly into the affected area before you go to bed.
- Moisturized corns hurt less and heal faster so be sure to regularly apply coconut oil or cocoa butter in between treatments to keep them soft,
- Ditch your ill-fitting and tight shoes and pick a pair that fits comfortably. Looking good is not worth the pain that corns cause.
- Get padding to place in your shoes beneath the corn so that you don’t have to be immobilized while you wait for the corn to heal
- Dry your feet thoroughly after each wash to prevent the buildup of bacteria which will keep your corn from healing
- Don’t use sharp objects to cut off your corns because that will be very painful and likely lead to you getting an infection.
- Don’t ignore your corns. It is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.