Corns and verrucae (plural) are two of the most common ailments that podiatrists deal with. Often someone presenting themselves with a corn or verruca will have first tried a self-diagnosis and then found an over the counter treatment. Unfortunately, this often results in further problems when the self-diagnosis is wrong, and the treatment is inappropriate. For these reasons, it is always advisable to get help from a podiatrist about treatment to be sure that you have either a verruca or corn and are receiving the correct treatment.
What is a corn and what does it look like?
A corn is an area of hard, compacted skin built up through friction. It is not contagious and is commonly found on the ball of the foot, in the joints of the little toes and in-between toes. It will appear as a raised bump, often yellow in colour, with a hard, dry skin layer over its top. If left untreated, it may become red, swollen and infected.
What is a verruca and what does it look like?
Verrucae are warts on the soles of your feet. They may have tiny black holes in the centre of them where the blood has clotted. They are often painful when walking. You may have a single verruca or a group of them clustered together, giving them a cauliflower look. Verrucae are contagious, and it is important to take precautions if you discover you have one. It is not advisable to go shoeless around the home or around the swimming pool. These two often shoeless areas are prime areas for contracting and spreading verrucae.
What is the difference between a corn and verruca?
The significant difference between the two is that the verruca is caused by a virus and passed on from person to person. They are highly contagious. On the other hand, a corn is not caused by a virus and is not contagious.
A verruca is usually found around the toe area but can easily spread to other areas, especially if scratched or picked. They thrive in wet environments making poolside and changing areas perfect for them.
Corns will not spread, as they are caused by friction. Corns are also slow to develop and usually appear on the ball of the foot and toe area, as the bone here protrudes and can rub on shoes, socks and seams.
Children and young adults are more likely than most to contract a verruca, but all ages can be susceptible. Those suffering from immunosuppression are more likely to suffer from verrucae, and they are more likely to be large and persistent in nature.
Ridding yourself of verrucae can take some time, and they are commonly known to last a year or more before you are clear of them. Some people experience minimal discomfort with a verruca, whilst others find them very painful. Verrucae usually will clear up over time, but if you would like to try a treatment method, some of the most effective are:
- Salicylic acid
- Swift microwave treatment
- Falknor’s needling
Ask your podiatrist about these treatments, and do not attempt them yourself.
With the contagious nature of a verruca, it is important not to walk around barefoot and get a course of treatment from your GP or podiatrist.
When treating a corn avoid corn plasters! It may seem like a good idea, but they can actually cause more damage leading to the development of ulcers. Instead, visit your podiatrist. They will be able to use a scalpel to remove the corn, using a process called enucleation. And don’t worry, it will be painless. There are no nerve supplies to a corn.
Further simple tests to tell if it is a corn or a verruca
If you are still unsure whether you have a corn or verruca, there are a couple of observations to help you decide. Take a close look in good light and perhaps with a magnifying glass at the area, and if it contains tiny black dots, it will most likely be a verruca. These dots are bleeding capillaries.
As well as this observation, you can also see what happens if you place a thumb on either side of the lump and then squeeze your thumbs inwards towards the centre of the lump, so you raise it slightly. If it is painful, then it is, again, most likely a verruca.
Corns can be sore, often yellow in colour, covered in a layer of thick, dry skin. Those prone to dry skin are more likely to develop a corn over time. Instead of squeezing the area on either side of the lump, try applying pressure to the area itself. Apply a thumb or finger and press, and if it is painful, it is quite likely to be a corn.
If you feel like you are suffering from a corn or verruca, book an appointment with us today. We have an expert knowledge in treating corns and verrucas and will do our best to help you treat and remove them and fall back in love with your feet.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.