Whilst corns and bunions are not a serious medical issue, they can be very painful and if untreated they can prevent you from living an active lifestyle.
Corns usually affect the feet as a result of significant pressure applied on certain areas of the skin, most often caused by ill-fitting shoes. This pressure creates small circles of hardened skin.
Bunions are a swelling of the joint of the big toes, caused by tight-fitting shoes. The pressure on the joint bends the big toe out of place and causes the joint to stick out and swell. Here are some tips to treat the symptoms and swelling:
Change your footwear
Corns and bunions are almost always caused by shoes that are too tight. The first step in tackling them is to start wearing more comfortable shoes or wide fit boots. Once the pressure on the tissue of the foot eases, the hardening of the skin will reduce.
For bunions, the decrease in pressure will see the swelling of the toe joint go down as the toe is allowed to return to its normal position. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen will help the swelling. Icepacks and massage can also reduce swelling and ease the pain. After a while, the change in more appropriate footwear like extra wide shoes solves most corn and bunion problems.
Treat corns with a corn pads
Whilst you are waiting for your corns or bunions to heal, a good option is to use a corn pad which is a soft material that covers the affected area. It serves as a cushion between the corn and the shoe, reducing friction and pressure. This allows the corn to heal naturally. These are also a good preventative measure if you want to wear high-heels.
Use a pumice stone
A pumice stone can be used on the corn to file away the area of hard skin. Soak your feet in water to soften the skin and then rub gently to remove the hardened area. This can be a simple and effective home remedy but it is important not to rub too hard because there is a risk of cutting the skin, which can cause infection.
Treat corns with a moisturising cream
Corns are hard because they are very dry. An intensive moisturizing cream on the callous can soften it. Apply a liberal amount and leave overnight. Use regularly until the corn is gone.
Use a topical acid
Another option is to use a topical salicylic acid. Applied on the calloused area, the acid works to dissolve the dead skins cells. A couple of applications a day for a several days is often effective. It is important to understand that salicylic acid is flammable and can be dangerous if not used correctly – consult your doctor for advice.
If your corns or bunions are particularly severe, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. Bunion surgery corrects the positioning of bones and tendons to return the foot to its normal state. This is often carried out to prevent the bunion causing further complications to the foot and other toes.
In the case of corns, the surgeon will usually use a scalpel to remove the entire hardened callous, which is a simple operation and patients can be fully healed in a couple of weeks. There is also the option of laser removal which is another straightforward operation, requiring only topical or local anaesthetic.
If you are worried about your corns it is always best to seek professional advice from your doctor who can assess the severity and proscribe the appropriate level of treatment. Before you attempt any home-remedies, change your footwear as this is the easiest and most common solution. Even if other remedies work, corns and bunions will return if your shoes do not give you the comfort your feet require.