Foot Pain
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Foot Corn vs. Plantar Wart: How To Spot the Difference

Although each can be painful in its own right, foot corns and plantar warts have important differences and treatment options. Learn those distinctions here.

Published on
September 23, 2022

Any painful bump on your foot can be a cause for concern. Raised growths such as corns or plantar warts can cause serious discomfort that limits daily activities. Standing, walking, or exercising can become very painful. Both of these common foot conditions are frustrating, but a foot specialist like Jonathan "The Toe Bro" Tomines can help you learn more about these common foot conditions, including how to treat them effectively. 

Foot Corn vs. Plantar Wart: What's the Difference?

Corns and plantar warts both cause raised growths on your foot. They can look and feel similar, but they have different causes. Corns result from pressure or friction on your foot and plantar warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). You can talk to a foot specialist to determine which type of growth is affecting you and what treatments can resolve pain and improve the health of your feet. 

Foot Corn

Corns are raised spots on the foot caused by thickened layers of skin. They're similar to calluses in that they're caused by a build-up of skin due to friction. Corns are typically smaller and more localized than calluses, appearing as small bumps. They can be painful, particularly when you put pressure on them. 

Typically Develops on a Pressure Point From Tight Shoes

Corns often develop on top of the toes, the sides of the feet, or between toes due to pressure, usually from shoes. You can also develop corns on the soles of the feet. Tight or poorly fitting shoes are a common reason for corns. The friction and rubbing from ill-fitting shoes will cause you to develop extra layers of hardened skin on pressure points. 

Two Types of Corns: Hard vs. Soft Corns

There are two types of corns: hard corns and soft corns. 

Hard corns are small, dense spots that might be surrounded by a larger area of callused or dry skin. They usually appear on the top of the toes, side of the foot, or other areas where shoes place pressure on the bone.  

Soft corns are soft, rubbery bumps that usually appear between the toes and may be gray or white. They're caused by toes putting pressure on one another, usually from being pressed together inside shoes. 

Hurts When Direct Pressure Is Applied

Corns tend to be painful or tender when pressure is applied, and shoes that rub corns can irritate them and cause more pain. Walking on corns may also cause discomfort. 

Treatment Options for Corns

The main goal in treating corns is to remove the layers of excess skin. Your doctor may recommend using gentle exfoliation at home to reduce the size of the corn. First, soak the affected foot in warm water to soften the dry, flaky skin of the corn. Once the skin is softened, gently rub the corn with a pumice stone or emery board to remove the top layers of dead skin. Use moisturizer to keep your skin soft, and wear shoes that don't put pressure on the corn. 

Wearing "corn pads," which are small donut-shaped adhesive patches, can reduce pressure on the corns. The pads will help prevent pain and reduce the risk of the corns getting larger. 

In some cases, corns are due to a foot deformity that leads to constant pressure. In rare cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to address the underlying structural deformity to prevent future corn formation. 

Plantar Wart

Plantar warts are raised growths caused by a virus. They appear on the sole of the foot, and pressure from shoes or standing on them can cause pain.

Can Grow Anywhere on Foot Due To Direct Contact With a Virus

Plantar warts are small, rough growths on the bottom of the foot. They're caused by HPV, which is also responsible for the type of common warts found on other areas of the body, such as the hands. 

HPV is a very common viral infection and enters the body via tiny cuts or breaks in the skin. It's a contagious virus. Plantar warts can spread from skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces such as the floor in a locker room or shared shower facility.

Viral Warts Often Appear in Clusters With Black Pinpoints

Plantar warts don't usually have the raised, bumpy appearance typical of warts that appear on the hands. The pressure from standing on plantar warts causes them to grow inward instead of outward. They usually look like rough patches with small black dots on them. These are small clotted blood vessels knowns as wart seeds. 

Several Effective Methods for Treatment of Warts 

A diagnosis of plantar warts doesn't necessarily mean you need immediate treatment. Many plantar warts will eventually go away on their own. If they are painful or causing problems, there are effective methods for treating warts, depending on the severity of the wart.

Cryotherapy: Your doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to the wart to destroy the virus and affected tissue. You may require several treatments to get rid of the wart completely.

Prescription topical medication: Your doctor will give you a high-strength salicylic acid medicine that you apply to the warts. The medication will remove the wart one layer at a time. You may need to come in for occasional appointments to make sure the treatment is working. 

Blistering: Your doctor can apply a medication called cantharidin to the wart, which causes a blister to form underneath it, killing the wart. You will need to return for a second appointment to remove the dead wart. 

Laser treatments: Pulled dye laser treatments can cut off the blood supply to the wart, which kills it. You may need several treatments spaced two to four weeks apart to remove the wart completely.

Surgery: Your doctor will excise the wart with an electrical instrument to cut it out of your foot. This requires a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure. The procedure comes with a risk of scarring and lingering pain. Surgery may only be recommended if other treatment options have failed. 

Consult a Foot Specialist for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Foot Lesions

You should seek medical advice if you're trying to figure out if that's a corn on your foot vs. a plantar wart or if you notice any other type of new or unusual growth. It helps to speak with a foot expert like The Toe Bro. Dr. Tomines is a qualified chiropodist with a lifelong passion for improving foot health. He can help you get appropriate treatment and get you back on your feet.

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The Signs of a Foot Corn and What To Do About It

What comes to mind when you hear the word corn? You may think of that delicious golden vegetable that tastes amazing on the grill, or maybe a joke that's not too funny. But there is another kind of corn that can affect your foot health: a foot corn.

What is a foot corn, and what can you do if you've got one? This article will discuss the signs of a foot corn and how you can treat it.

Foot Corn Common Symptoms

A foot corn is a type of callus made from dead skin that develops when the foot experiences excessive pressure or friction. Layers of skin build and harden in response as a protective measure. 

Foot corns can develop between your toes, below your toenail bed, and on the sides or bottoms of your feet. They often appear as small, hard, raised knobs with thin skin over the top. The skin may appear white or become yellow and flaky if left unattended for too long.

There are several types of corns:

  • Seed corns: Small corns that form on the bottom of the foot.
  • Soft corns: Corns that appear between the toes. They are a whitish or gray color and have a semi-soft, rubbery texture. 
  • Hard corns: Small areas of hard skin underneath larger areas of thickened skin. These form on the tops of the toes, typically right above bone joints.

Common symptoms include skin irritation, discomfort/pain, blisters, and redness. If left untreated, they can become infected, affect your ability to walk, and require surgery.

So how can you prevent the development of corns? Several health tips will help you:

  • Avoid ill-fitting or tight shoes, and wear comfortable shoes with a soft cushion. 
  • Wear thick socks when breaking in new shoes.
  • Cover the sides of your feet and the tops of your toes with breathable bandages when engaging in physical activity.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed to the edge of your toe.

But what can you do if you already have foot corns? Let's look at four options for foot corn removal.

Treatment for Corns

There's no reason to despair if you have corns on your feet. There are several foot health tips that you can follow to treat corns and enjoy healthy skin again:

Soak Hardened Skin in Warm Water

Corns can be treated at home if they are adequately softened and prepped.

Try soaking your feet every day. Fill a basin with hot soapy water and add a cup of apple cider vinegar. Ensuring that the patch of skin with the corn is fully immersed, soak your feet in the water for at least 15 minutes.

This soaking process will soften your corns, preparing them to be filed away or readied for the use of castor oil and corn pads.

File with a Foot File

It may be possible for you to remove foot corns with a foot file. A foot file is a pedicure tool with a pumice surface designed to grate dead skin off your feet. Once the dead skin is gone, fresh, healthy, and smooth skin is exposed.

There are several steps you can follow daily to remove layers of hard, dead skin:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt. 
  1. Use a clean towel to pat your feet dry.
  1. Moisturize your feet with lotion or cocoa butter.
  1. Gently rub the corn with the foot file after it's soft and does not hurt. Use an emery board if the corn is in between the toes.
  1. Repeat these steps every day until the corn disappears.

This process may take several weeks, but it is a gentle way to remove corns physically.

Apply Castor Oil and Corn Pads

Castor oil and corn pads are a great option if you don't want to file away your foot corn. 

Castor oil is a thick, vegetable-based oil that is an excellent emollient for the skin. Corn pads are small pads specially designed to cover the affected area and help relieve pressure so it can heal. Both items are over-the-counter products that can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy. 

This method also includes several steps:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water.
  1. Use a clean towel to pat your feet dry.
  1. Apply castor oil to your corn.
  1. Place the corn pad on the corn.

Your socks and shoes mustn't be too tight after you apply the corn pad. You also want to pick spare socks since castor oil can stain the fabric. This method may take ten days to several weeks, but the foot corn should peel away.

Meet With a Foot Specialist

Allowing corns to remain on your feet for too long can lead to painful corns and foot complications. So if your home treatments don't work after several weeks, you should visit your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a podiatrist — a doctor that specializes in foot conditions.

Your foot specialist may use specialized tools to shave, scrape, or cut away the hardened skin layers. Depending on the size of the corn, this foot corn removal process may take a few appointments before the corn completely disappears. They may also opt for laser treatment instead. 

Your podiatrist may prescribe topical medications to help soften the corns and slough away dead skin. Topical medications may include pads or a solution with a high concentration of salicylic acid, urea, or silver nitrate. Another option to use is hydrocolloid dressings.

Stop The Formation of Corns and Keep Your Foot Pain at Bay

Foot corns can be painful and embarrassing, but there are ways to treat them. If you notice a foot corn, you can soak it in warm soapy water, file it with a foot file, use castor oil and corn pads, or meet with a podiatrist if it is too severe for home treatment. These steps will help you treat existing foot corns and prevent new ones from developing.

As you can see, a good foot care routine is essential to the health of your feet. The Toe Bro provides high-quality advanced foot care products to prevent and treat symptoms of foot problems like foot corns and athlete's foot. Visit our website today to begin your journey to healthy feet. Your feet will thank you.

Plantar Wart Causes and Symptoms

Warts are a type of skin infection that causes rough bumps on the outer layer of your skin. Warts that grow on your hands or other body parts are called common warts. But the types of warts on feet are called plantar warts. 

Here’s everything you need to know about what causes plantar warts, their symptoms, and how to treat them. 

What Is a Plantar Wart?

Plantar warts are small, rough, grainy, or fleshy bumps that grow on the plantar surface or the soles of your feet. They are viral warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They may appear anywhere on the bottom of your foot. But they are commonly seen on the heels or balls of the feet — parts that bear most of your body weight. The pressure may cause a plantar wart to grow under a hard or thickened layer of skin called a callus.

A plantar wart may look like a callus. But it has tiny black dots on the outer surface, which are the ends of tiny dried-up or clotted blood vessels. A callus is a firm, yellow, wax-like skin growth that doesn’t have any blood vessels.

Plantar wart symptoms include:

  • A small, rough bump on the base of your toes, ball, or heel
  • Thickened skin or callus formation when the wart grows inward
  • Tiny, black dots or small blood vessels known as wart seeds
  • Mosaic warts or a cluster of bumps on the soles that occur when the HPV infection spreads
  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing
  • White-colored sores or lesions on the bottom of your foot

Plantar warts can last from several months to 2 years in children. In adults, they can last a few years. If left untreated, they can grow more painful with time and affect how you stand and walk. 

What Are the Causes?

Plantar warts occur due to HPV infection. HPV is a common virus with many strains, but only some strains cause plantar warts. They can spread from person to person. Some people come in contact with HPV but don’t develop an infection. So, you may or may not get plantar warts, depending on your immune system’s ability to fight the virus.

Plantar wart risk factors include:

  • Young age 
  • A weakened immune system
  • A medical history of plantar warts
  • Walking barefoot in warm, moist environments 

You can develop plantar warts through the following ways:

Direct Contact With Warts

HPV strains that cause plantar warts can be contagious. The virus can spread to your body if you come in direct contact with the viral warts of another person. 

If you have warts, touching them can spread HPV from the infected site to other parts of your body. It can cause plantar warts. [Text Wrapping Break]To prevent plantar warts, avoid skin contact with any warts, yours or those on another person. Wash your hands properly if you touch HPV-infected cells by mistake. 

Also, cover your wart to prevent HPV from spreading to other people or other parts of your own body.

Viral Infection Through Cuts

HPV thrives in warm and moist places like a locker room or swimming pool. You become more prone to HPV infection if you walk barefoot around these places. HPV can enter your skin surface through tiny cuts, breaks, cracks, or weak spots on the soles of your feet. 

HPV can grow in sweaty or wet footwear and spread to your feet through cuts. Avoid walking barefoot in warm, moist places. And wear clean, dry shoes to prevent plantar warts.

Plantar Wart Treatment Approaches

Usually, plantar warts are harmless. They remain for a few years and go away without treatment. If you have painful plantar wart symptoms and want to remove them, visit a chiropodist or foot specialist. The doctor will examine your foot and confirm the diagnosis with some tests.

They may suggest the following plantar wart treatments: 

Topical Treatment

Doctors prescribe topical medications with salicylic acid to treat plantar warts. These medicines are available as liquids, gels, pads, or patches. They must be applied regularly on warts. Salicylic acid helps peel the infected cells and remove the plantar wart layer by layer. It also boosts your immune system to fight HPV infection. But topical treatment may take a few weeks to heal your plantar wart and restore healthy skin. 

You can try using silver duct tape to remove your plantar wart. It is not a proven treatment, but it is harmless. Cover the wart with duct tape and change it every 2 or 3 days. Before you change the duct tape, soak your foot and gently remove dead skin cells with a pumice stone. Air-dry the wart for a few hours, and cover it with duct tape again. 

It may or may not work as a treatment. But it helps keep the plantar wart covered and prevent HPV from spreading to other body parts.

Liquid Nitrogen Cryotherapy

Freezing therapy or cryotherapy involves spraying or applying liquid nitrogen to the wart using a cotton swab. The liquid nitrogen freezes the plantar wart and forms a blister around it. The wart becomes dead tissue and falls off within a week after treatment. 

To ensure complete plantar wart removal, your doctor may repeat the procedure every few weeks. It is done in a clinic because it can be painful and requires numbing. Cryotherapy may have side effects like pain, blisters, and skin discoloration. But your doctor will help you manage them. 

Surgical Treatment

If topical treatment and cryotherapy don’t work, your doctor may perform minor surgery to remove the plantar wart. It is usually the last resort because it can leave a painful scar on the sole of your foot.

Minor surgery involves cutting away the plantar wart. Your doctor may use electrodesiccation and curettage (ED & C), a procedure that scrapes off the infected skin cells and seals the wound. They may also use laser therapy to burn and remove the small blood vessels with laser heat energy. These methods can be painful and require numbing your skin.  

When It's Time To Seek Professional Treatment

Plantar warts aren’t usually a serious health concern and don’t always require treatment. However, if you notice these symptoms, you may need immediate treatment:

  • Severe pain or bleeding
  • Shape or color changes in the growth
  • Persistent or recurring plantar warts 
  • Pain that interferes with your daily activities
  • Weakness in legs, especially if you have diabetes
  • A weak immune system 

If you’re looking for a foot specialist to treat plantar warts, the Toe Bro is here to help you. Jonathan Tomines is a licensed chiropodist with years of experience treating foot problems like warts. You can find him at the Mississauga Foot Clinic outside Toronto, Canada. To know more, contact The Toe Bro today.

7 Foot Care Tips for Better Foot Health

Your feet work hard. They take several thousand steps a day to get you from point A to point B — all while bearing the weight of your body. You stand on them a long time and put them into shoes that may not be the best fit. Unfortunately, these conditions can eventually cause a range of foot problems. So how can you take care of your feet and avoid chronic foot issues? This article will cover seven excellent foot care tips to keep your feet healthy.

Foot Care Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

It's important to know how to take care of your feet to keep them healthy for years to come. You can implement these seven tips to build a good foot care routine and avoid foot issues.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Shoes

Shoe fit is very important to your foot health. 

Tight shoes restrict your blood flow, causing poor circulation that damages your feet in the long run. They may also cause foot pain that could become chronic. 

Over time, you may notice calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, and corns on your feet. They may even deform your feet with conditions like hammertoes and bunions.

2. Wear Shoes With Arch Support

Once you've got comfortable shoes that fit, you need to make sure your arch is adequately supported. Your arch does it all — it supports your body weight, propels you forward when you move, and absorbs shock anytime your foot hits the ground. Over time, your arch can become strained or weakened from the stress.

Arch supports keep your arch in good condition because they:

  • Distribute pressure evenly
  • Support the lower body
  • Help with alignment
  • Prevent arch trauma
  • Provide balance and stability
  • Prevent and lessen foot pain

So really, everyone can benefit from arch supports. Look for shoe brands that are known for providing good arch support. You may benefit from a custom shoe insert if you have shoes that fit well but don't provide enough arch support.

Also, try to avoid wearing flats and flip-flops every day. Although they are comfortable, they don't support your arch enough and may lead to a foot injury down the line.

3. Keep Your Feet Clean and Mostly Dry

Feet often sweat throughout the day, providing a perfect breeding ground for harmful fungi. So pay special attention to your feet when you shower or bathe. Good foot hygiene goes a long way toward eliminating foot odor. 

Be careful! You don't want to soak your feet in hot water or leave them in the water for too long. This may cause dry skin, which leads to skin irritation and flaking. 

After you clean your feet thoroughly, be sure to dry them. Don't be shy — get in between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot.

4. Inspect Regularly for Foot Ailments

Practicing a good foot care routine allows you to catch any potential issues before they arise. Inspect your feet for any changes daily, and look out for any sores, cuts, swelling, or infected toenails.

Use antiseptic and healing creams if you notice any cuts, and go to the podiatrist immediately if you have unexpected swelling or infected toenails. 

After all, prevention is always the best cure.

5. Use Nail Clippers Correctly

We may tend to use nail clippers to clip and shape our toenails. But this can cause damage to the tender skin of your nail bed. 

It's important to use nail clippers correctly. Make sure they're stainless steel, so the blades stay sharp for longer. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. 

Use the nail clippers only to trim the toenail straight across. You then want to use a nail file or emery board to gently smooth and round the corners. 

You can also use the nail file or emery board to push your cuticles back. However, you want to avoid cutting them, so they don't split or bleed.

6. Use Moisturizing Cream at Night

Chronic dry skin can cause skin irritation and flakiness. To avoid this, use moisturizing cream every night right after you dry your feet off. 

You can use creams, lotions, or even petroleum jelly. These are all nourishing emollients that sink into the skin and create a barrier to protect it. Your feet will be noticeably softer and well-hydrated. 

You can even give your feet a gentle massage as you apply your moisturizer, which can help stretch the tendons and contribute to your foot's muscular health. 

Afterward, you can put on socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for at least an hour for better lotion absorption, especially if you have dry skin.

But don't put any moisturizer between your toes to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Remember, you want to keep that area dry.

7. Don't Perform DIY Surgery on Ingrown Nails

We all know that ingrown toenails are annoying and even downright painful, and it's tempting to do a little DIY surgery to get rid of them. However, this is dangerous. 

Many people dig out ingrown nails with nail clippers or use floss to "splint" the toenail. These home remedies create a wide opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin and develop into a nasty infection.

Go see your podiatrist instead. They are experts in all things feet and will safely get rid of your ingrown toenail in sanitary conditions. They can also prevent ingrown nails from regrowing and causing issues in the future.

Schedule Periodic Foot Exams and Invest in Advanced Foot Products

It's important to practice proper foot care. This includes wearing comfortable shoes, practicing good foot hygiene, and using the proper tools and creams.

You also want to visit your podiatrist for periodic foot exams to prevent the development of foot problems. They can also improve your foot health by performing procedures like ingrown toenail removal. These steps will ensure that your feet stay healthy and happy for many years.

Make sure you use products made for your feet. Here at The Toe Bro, we know how important it is for you to take care of your feet. That's why we provide high-quality advanced foot products to tackle and prevent a host of foot problems afflicting people today. Feel free to visit our website and add products to your routine today. You won't regret investing in your foot health.