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Corns Vs Bunions: Identifying And Treating Them Properly

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Many people use the terms corns and bunions interchangeably to refer to a bump on the foot, but these two conditions are not the same. One is simply a large bump caused by an overgrowth of dead, calloused skin, while the other is an abnormality of the bone in the foot. The treatment varies depending on which you have and its underlying cause. The first step in getting proper treatment is understanding the difference between the two.

What is a corn?

A corn is a buildup of calloused skin that can occur on your heels, toes or other parts of the foot. You can have one or more corns on your feet. They typically get larger, unless you treat the underlying condition that caused the corn to form in the first place.

What causes corns?

Corns as caused when a part of your foot rubs against your shoe. The constant friction causes the skin to die and form a protective layer of dead skin on your feet. Over time the corn can grow larger, as the area of dead skin cells thickens. Corns typically look like a thick callous. They may decrease the sensitivity of the foot in that area, but may cause pain when you wear shoes. Corns may look unsightly, but they are typically painless.  Dress shoes, especially those with pointed toes, often cause corns on women's feet. Any footwear that is too small or too tight can cause corns to form on your feet.

How do you treat corns?

Some corns will disappear on their own if you correct the underlying cause, such as buying shoes that fit your feet properly. A common treatment for corns is to remove the dead skin from the feet. While this can be done with a pumice stone, care must be exercised not to damage the tender skin beneath the corn. Likewise, OTC remedies that use acidic applications may dissolve the corn, but they can damage healthy skin if not applied correctly. Your foot doctor can remove the corn painlessly without endangering the health of your feet.

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a large bump on the bone behind the big toe, where the toe attaches to the foot. It may protrude either upward or outward and often causes the toe to bend towards the other toes. The bump is formed by the bone as it becomes misaligned.  A bunion is hard and may be painful. You cannot use a pumice stone or other home remedies to make the bunion go away.

What causes a bunion?

Bunions are caused by a variety of things. Sometimes they are caused by faulty footwear, but they can also be the result of genetics or degenerative joint diseases. Bunions can be caused by arthritis or diabetes, but are usually caused by a combination of these factors.

How do you treat bunions?

Bunions may be treated with special inserts for your shoes to relieve pain and discomfort, orthopedic shoes, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, or pain medication. A bunion surgeon can also remove them surgically to realign the bone.

Interesting Facts:

  • A corn can form on an existing bunion.
  • 9 out of 10 bunions are on women's feet, says Health Grades.
  • 1 out of 3 women will develop a bunion. (Health Grades)
  • 35 percent of people underestimate their shoe size by at least half a size. (Everyday Health)
  • The average shoe size for women has risen from 7 ½ to 8 ½ in the last 30 years. (Everyday Health)
  • 60 to 70 percent of women have longer feet with shorter arches after they have children. (Live Science)

If you suspect you have corns or bunions, make an appointment to see your foot doctor.