February 19, 2018

Corn or wart? Our Brisbane podiatry clinic can assist.

Painful hard lumps under the foot are easily confused; with some confusion about the differences between corns vs warts. Our podiatrists frequently get referrals from GPs who even have trouble picking the difference. Regardless, it is important to understand that these two problem are completely different – with very different causes and treatments.

Corn before treatment by Brisbane podiatrists

Medial DIP joint 5th toe (interdigital) corn

Corns (picture above) are very hard and dense areas of skin that develop in the outer layers of the epidermis due to pressure. They are similar to calluses, but are much more dense and typically more painful. They tend to have a slightly conical shape that has a ‘pointed’ end that sticks into the foot – a bit like walking around with a sewing needle digging through the skin. They frequently occur over bony joints of the toes and under the front of the foot. The are caused by weight bearing pressure between the underlying bone pushing stress through the skin against the ground surface or surrounding footwear. Corns are usually easily removed without pain, but will redevelop over time if the mechanical stress on the tissue is not addressed either through footwear changes, orthotics or surgery.

Warts are due to a viral infection affecting the skin (human papillomavirus {HPV}). They are quite prevalent in children who have reduced immune defenses, and adults who might be unwell or with altered immune function. Warts can either be solitary and appear similar to a corn, or spread out in a wider distribution or mosaic pattern. A plantar wart (picture below) is different to warts that appear in other parts of the body, because the main body of the wart appears under the skin, rather than on top – thus making them painful to walk on. The treatment of warts can involve strong acid treatments, cryotherapy, surgical curettage and even some newer immune modifying agents. However, there is no single sure fire approach to wart removal, and they can sometimes recur again after treatment. Maintaining good health overall is important to ensure that your own body can develop some resistance to wart infections.

plantar wart bottom footAuthor: Anthony Short


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