Corns can be a painful and unsightly problem, and especially embarrassing when our feet our exposed—as is often the case in summer. Here are some quick at-home remedies to help you out
In every pharmacy there is shelf space devoted to the tender care of calluses and corns. This is a good place to start in your search for relief. But the quest for treatment ingredients can take you much farther afield. If your feet are affected, you need the right oil to soften the skin, customised patches for day-long protection, along with socks, shoes and insoles to protect you from pain. For hands, the right gloves can help a lot. Here are some ways to ease the irritation of calluses and corns.
Scrape and sand down
• If a callus is causing pain or irritation, you need to scrape away some of those dead cells so the callus won’t put so much pressure on your nerves. Immediately after a warm shower or bath, when your skin is wet and softened, rub a pumice stone on the callus to remove dead cells. A pumice stone, available from pharmacies, is simply a rough piece of volcanic mineral. Don’t try to grind the whole callus away in one sitting, as you will rub your skin raw. Instead, sand it down a little every day and be patient. If the callus is very thick or hard, the sanding project might take a few weeks.
• Soft corns occur between your toes when the bones in adjacent toes rub until the skin thickens.They’re called ‘soft’ because the skin between the toes is generally more moist.A pumice stone won’t fit the tight space between the toes, so buy a callus file instead and remove the thickened skin a little at a time, or relieve pressure between the toes with a foam wedge. If your feet need further attention, see a registered podiatrist or chiropodist who can remove corns painlessly, apply padding or insoles to relieve pressure, or fit corrective appliances for long term relief.
Photo by Rune Enstad
Soften up the opposition
• Instead of filing corns and calluses, you can soak and moisturize them until they become soft. For corns on your toes, use olive oil as a softener with a corn pad as protector.To protect the corn, you want non-medicated, doughnut-shaped pads, available from pharmacies. Place one of these pads around the corn, apply a few drops of castor oil onto the corn with a cotton bud, then put adhesive tape over the pad to hold it in place. The little padded doughnut encircles the corn and shields it from pressure while also holding in the moisturizing castor oil. (Castor oil can leak through the bandage, causing stains, so wear some old socks when trying this treatment.)
• Another good way to soften calluses and corns is to soak them in water containing Epsom salts. Follow the directions on the packet.
Attack the corn with acid
• Look for medicated corn-removing patches that contain salicylic acid. Apply the patch after a bath or shower, and make sure you are treating only the hard callused area, not the soft skin around it – salicylic acid could cause burning or ulceration on normal skin.
• Another source of salicylic acid is aspirin. To create your own corn-softening compound, crush 5 aspirin tablets to a fine powder. Mix the powder thoroughly with 1⁄2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1⁄2 teaspoon of water. Dab the paste onto the thickened skin, wrap the foot in cling film, then cover the film with a heated towel. Remove the wrap after 10 minutes and gently scrub the loosened skin with a pumice stone. (Alert This tip is not suitable for those allergic to aspirin.)
Photo by Christopher Sardegna
Relieve the friction
• To help protect a callus or corn on your foot from pressure, custom-design your own ‘doughnut’ pad using a piece of adhesive moleskin. Cut a circle larger than your callus or corn, fold it in half, and cut a half-circle in the centre.When you open it up, you’ll have a padded ring. Stick it over your callus or corn.
• If you have a soft corn between two toes, stick a foam toe separator between them to keep them from rubbing each other. Look for these in the foot-care section at the pharmacy.
• Try socks that have very thick, cushioned soles.They could stop your calluses from getting worse.
• Sometimes, adding an over-the-counter insole to your shoes can decrease the pressure on the area with the callus and help it to recover more quickly.
The power of prevention
• Apply a lotion containing urea, such as Aquadrate, to rough spots before they turn into troublesome calluses. Start with a small amount, as urea-based lotions can sting.
• Another way to prevent skin from toughening up is by soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water once a week. Afterwards, apply a moisturizing lotion.
Photo by Toa Heftiba
• Choose shoes that fit well. You should have a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Shoes should be wide enough so that your toes and the balls of your feet aren’t cramped from side to side. But if shoes are too roomy, your feet slide around and rub against the sides.
• Since feet naturally swell during the day, shop for shoes late in the afternoon when your feet are plumpest. If you shop in the early morning, you might end up with a pair of shoes that are too small.
• For women, it’s advisable to save the high heels for special occasions. Even for the big night out, however, you should choose high heels that have a lot of cushioning in the front to reduce pressure on your toes.
• Don’t play tennis in your running shoes. For each sport, select the appropriate type of shoe. A lot of research and engineering has gone into the development of shoes that are perfect for particular foot movements.
• To prevent calluses on your hands, wear thickly cushioned gloves when you’re doing work such as raking, painting or pruning.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter