"My toes are hurting every time I put on a pair of shoes! Even my Crocs hurt! I've noticed some little red spots on my toes that seem to be growing. What's going on? I've tried to scrub them off but they hurt! I even tried some pads but they just made my shoes hurt more! Help!"

Sounds like she may have corns! Corns: such a simple name for a relatively complex problem. Corns can be extremely painful and actually are caused by several different foot ailments, so finding the root cause can take some detective work.

What is a corn?

  • The name "corn" came from the appearance of a bump that looks like a corn kernel on or between your toes. Corns are actually your body's defense against the rubbing of your shoes. They are layers of compacted, dead skin cells that your body makes to protect itself. Corns can be "soft" or "hard". Soft corns are usually seen in between the toes and hard corns are on the tops or tips of your toes.

What causes a corn?

  • These annoying bumps are caused by repeated friction and pressure from skin rubbing against a bone or against an irregularity in a shoe like a seam. Either your toes are crooked or the shoe just does not fit properly. The friction can cause significant pain from pressure points which makes wearing shoes very uncomfortable.

Why do my corns hurt even without shoes?

  • If you have pain in a corn, even when you do not have shoes on, you have most likely developed bursitis which is inflammation of the joint under the corn. Bursitis is often treated with an injection of anti-inflammatory into the inflamed area. This type of pain should be evaluated by your podiatrist, because the other reason for pain without shoes is an infection in or around the corn. Toe infections can become serious and may even lead to amputation in some patients. Don't ignore your toe pain!

How are corns treated?

  • The pain from corns often may be relieved by felt, foam or silicone padding on the affected areas. A good moisturizing cream can also help. Your podiatrist can scrape or "debride" the corn to reduce the thickness, but remember never to cut corns with any instrument at home, and never apply home remedies or "corn remover patches". These invite infection and can make your corns a foot emergency!

There are only two permanent treatments for corns:

  1. Surgically correct crooked toes also known as hammertoes.
  2. Find the culprit shoe and stop wearing it!

Don't ignore your toe pain from corns! Relief is simply a visit to the podiatrist away!