A corn is a term used to describe a callous in which layers of dead skin accumulate over an area of extra bone on a toe in response to friction or pressure. A corn can affect a single toe, or adjacent sides of two toes. The most common locations are over the top or side of the little toe, or in between the 4th and 5th toes (known as an interdigital corn). A “kissing corn” refers to opposing prominent surfaces, but sometimes an interdigital corn may develop due to pressure of an adjacent toenail rather than a bony prominence. Even though it is common to refer to corn in between the toes as soft, in reality it is frequently anything but soft.

Terms used to describe a corn on the side of a toe: hard corn, heloma durum, and clavus durum. Many terms have been used to describe a corn in between the toes include: webspace corn, heloma molle, clavus mollum, tyloma molle and interdigital clavus.

When a corn develops in between the toes, the skin can become macerated due to condensation of moisture or perspiration. This can appear similar to a fungal (athlete’s foot) infection, and it can be difficult to differentiate the two.

High fashion footwear has frequently been identified as a cause of corn formation. Other causes include enlargement of the involved joint, certain shape of the underlying bone, excess bone formation, arthritis, trauma, dislocating joints, claw or hammertoes, or a short fifth metatarsal bone. Some research even suggests that a difference in length between the 4th and 5th metatarsal bones leads to a change in position and can cause a corn, although this relationship has not been proven.

Non-surgical treatment for either type of corn is focused on relieving pressure over the symptomatic callous. Many times wearing wide, roomy shoes, lower heeled shoes, padding, and shaving or of the corn can provide significant relief.

Surgical treatment is indicated for the painful corns that do not improve with conservative measures. The techniques used in surgery usually involve removing a portion of bone underneath the callous to prevent further irritation and pain. Another surgical method is called “syndactylization,” which involves permanently joining the two affected toes. 

If you have a corn or other skin problem on your feet that won't go away, call our Berkley office at (248) 545-0100. For 30 years we've been serving the Berkley, Southfield, Royal Oak, Oak Park, and Ferndale areas.