Calluses on the big toe

    Auteur: Podiatre Montreal

    Corns and calluses are very common ailments caused by repeated rubbing of the foot, resulting mainly in painful feet. These lesions are generally benign, but remain very unpleasant and require appropriate treatment to get rid of them and relieve the pain they cause. Nevertheless, it is necessary to differentiate between the various lesions of this kind that may appear in order to treat them properly and prevent their recurrence. Indeed, corns and calluses are both caused by friction from ill-fitting shoes, but while their prevention is essentially the same, the treatments may differ slightly. Moreover, these calluses do not have the same appearance both inside and outside and should not be confused with the classic blisters and plantar warts.

    Symptoms and causes of callus on the big toe

    Symptoms of corns and calluses may include :

    • a thick, hard area of skin on the foot
    • a small hard bump on the skin that could have a central core
    • white, rubbery bumps on the skin (“soft” corns between the toes)
    • in some cases, the callus sinks into the inside of the foot, rather than growing on the surface of the skin
    • pain when pressure or friction is applied to the area

    To begin with, it is essential to differentiate between calluses, corns and calluses. Indeed, calluses are generally caused by repeated trauma in a specific area that will cause a thickening of the skin. These lesions are often located in the new areas of the foot’s support zones and are therefore variable in shape and poorly defined. In terms of their appearance, calluses are often pale yellow and hard to the touch. If they are mostly asymptomatic, it can happen that the skin is inflamed, causing pain. Corns usually form bumps on the feet, rather small and yellow in color with a central plug, they can be soft or hard, but are often painful because they cause compression of the nerves located where they appear. The most affected areas are often the joints of the toes and on top of the toes. However, sometimes an identical lesion can develop between the toes, called partridge eye, which is similar to corns. Calluses are usually pale yellow or creamy and oval or round in shape and consist of thickening of the skin to protect certain areas undergoing repeated trauma.

    If all these lesions are different with specific symptoms, the question remains: what are the causes? How do they appear? Most of the time, calluses, corns and calluses have the same origin: long-lasting rubbing of the foot and repeated trauma. The latter are generally linked to ill-fitting shoes causing friction as is often the case with high heels for women, but these lesions can also appear in athletes with unsuitable sports shoes and especially those who practice running.

    Consequences of calluses on the toes

    Anyone can develop corns or calluses, but some people are particularly at risk, including :

    • the elderly – because aging skin loses its elasticity and fatty tissue.
    • people who spend a lot of time standing – because of the pressure exerted on their feet by continuous loading.
    • people with feet that roll inward (the flat foot) – the flat foot puts excessive pressure on the tip of the foot under the big toe, and on the inside of the heel.
    • People with foot problems (such as a hammer toe, bunions or arthritis) – a bony prominence can rub continuously against the shoe or nearby toes.
    • People who regularly wear high heels or narrow, tight or ill-fitting shoes.

    While calluses are generally asymptomatic, corns often cause acute pain and calluses often cause discomfort with a feeling of having a pebble in the shoe. Nevertheless, it can happen that calluses are accompanied by inflammation of the skin that can cause painful feet and difficulty walking. In general, calluses, corns and calluses will lead to a certain loss of comfort which can modify the gait, the points of support and thus the pressure applied to the soles of the feet, thus increasing the risk of developing blisters. Finally, in certain specific situations such as the presence of diabetes, foot injuries can become difficult to heal with sometimes dramatic consequences. These consequences make it necessary to treat them, but also to prevent them.

    How to treat calluses on the toes

    Since these lesions are as uncomfortable as they are painful, it is essential to care for and treat them.

    Taking care of your feet

    One of the first steps to take is obviously to avoid wearing the shoes that cause these lesions. Then, it is above all a question of taking care of your feet and removing calluses. For this purpose, it is recommended to carry out foot baths after which it will be possible to proceed to a light stripping with a pumice stone for example which will make it possible to eliminate the essential part of the dead skins. It is also possible to use a foot file when the feet are dry to sand down calluses and calluses.

    Hydration, an essential point

    Then, it is important not to neglect the hydration of your feet which will avoid dry skin, this can be obtained thanks to a foot cream that is carefully applied with preferably circular movements to make it penetrate well. Nevertheless, it is advisable not to confuse the moisturizing cream with an emollient cream also called keratolytic. The latter comes in complement of the gumming to facilitate exfoliation. Containing salicylic acid, it is very effective in softening the horn that may have formed at the level of these lesions, but it should not be applied if the heels are cracked.

    Medical treatment

    All of this care can go a long way to eliminating these lesions, but is sometimes insufficient. In these cases and when the pain is acute or when there is a frequent recurrence, it is best to consult a health professional who will be able to provide advice and care to treat corns, calluses and calluses. Do not hesitate to make an appointment with a podiatrist like our doctor who will be able to confirm the diagnosis by performing various foot examinations. After these, he will be able to propose a treatment adapted to the lesions observed. These treatments may consist of anti-inflammatory drugs if skin inflammation is observed, but also anti-callus medication to reduce calluses and relieve pain quickly.

    In addition, he will also be able to offer you a foot orthosis adapted to your foot, both to remedy the loss of comfort and to prevent the possible reappearance of corns. These orthotics will help distribute pressure differently on the foot, but will also act as real protectors of the most fragile areas. Nevertheless, sometimes the lesions are too deeply established to disappear with these measures alone, the health care professional may then propose a surgical shock treatment to reduce the corns or calluses.

    Ask your Podiatrist for advice

    If you have corns or calluses, or if you think you might be developing them, consult our podiatrist located in Montreal. Treatment options may include :

    • investigation and treatment of possible causes (such as bunions)
    • professional callus or horn reduction for pain relief
    • custom-made foot supports or padding on various areas of the foot to reduce stress; for example, you may need to wear small foam cushions between the toes.
    • if necessary, you may have to wear a foot orthosis to reduce long-term stress.
    • advice on proper footwear and foot care


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      Podiatre Montréal
      1826 Sherbrooke O,
      Montreal, QC H3H 1E4