Corns and calluses are similarly localised thickened skin. The main difference is pain – while a corn (clavus) is inflamed and painful, a callus (tyloma) is just a plain old hard dead skin and so painless. They are ‘soft corns’ (helomamolle) which seem to fall between – generally arising where the surface skin is damp – pain might not factor but peeling and other complications can arise.
Corns – all corns are identified by virtue of having a tip – or cone shape. Hard corns usually form on the tops or outer sides of the toes – just where the skin rubs against the boot/shoe – hence the popularity of corn plasters. Soft corns generally form between toes at the point where the bones of one toe exerts some pressure on the bones the toe next to it – hence the need for good fitting shoes. Corns are unsightly and beautiful feet can do without them.
Calluses – on hands or feet, calluses have no tip; they generally form over a flat surface – in the instances of feet at the weight-bearing parts of the foot (the ball or the heel). Calluses are part of our own natural protection system – we develop them to protect the skin/foot against chafing and pressure – padding and insole may be your best friend but if it’s a day for the sandals or a night for the heels then there are things that can be done.
Garden spa – Some work boots are just not cut out for maintaining soft and supple feet – so after a hard day at it is good to soften skin with a soapy soak (add a little Epsom salts or baking soda for extra relief) and then exfoliate any hard skin with a pumice stone. Never pare or cut away calluses or corns.
Willow water is an excellent foot soak (softening, exfoliating and medicating). You can also mix some willow leaves with mint to provide sensation and extra soothing. The pulped nuts of the Horse-chestnut tree (or a premade extract) has really good skin softening properties as does the sap of houseleeks.
Sole corn / plantar keratoderma – Thickened skin on the entire heel or sole. The convention is to apply keratolytic (descaling) creams but homemade heel balms are as effective if based upon the addition of lactic acid (dairy) or salicylic acid (meadowsweet, willow water) which are naturally keratolytic.
Remedy recipe #1 – Mallow and chamomile foot soak: both mallow and chamomile contain mucilage that softens feet and phytonutrients that replenish skin and address wounds and swelling. Make a decoction of a ½ cup of each per litre of water. Cool enough to your comfort. After – Dry feet well.
Remedy recipe #2 Lavender and chamomile foot lotion: blitz equal amounts in enough coconut or olive oil to make a lotion. An ideal foot moisturizer with skin healing action.