This is one of the most common questions we get asked in the clinic by our new patients. Is it a Verruca or Corn?
Our Foot Care Experts see hundreds of both corns and verrucae every year. As such, they can easily diagnose what they are and how best to treat them. However, as a simple rule of thumb…
Corns are compacted dead skin cells, mostly round in shape and can form a cone or plug of hard skin that will hurt when pressed. Corns tend to appear on areas of the foot where there is friction, pressure and where there may be a build-up of callus.
Common areas of the foot where corns may build-up are:
- the tops of the toes – especially on clawed toes or the little toe where there is rubbing and pressure from the shoe upper, hard corns (Heloma Durum) can form
- in-between the toes are common sites for interdigital soft corns (Heloma Molle), especially between the 4th and 5th toes
- on the balls of the feet, especially on the metatarsal heads (at the toe joints). This is where there is overloading of pressure on the skin between the toe joints and the ground. Hard corns (Heloma Durum) can if left without treatment can turn into Neurovascular Corns at these pressure points.
Corns are generally caused by rubbing shoes, excess pressure and friction from ill-fitting shoes. Overloading toe joints with pressure, often through wearing high heels for too long or being overweight can cause corns to develop.
Sensible, well-fitting shoes with plenty of supportive cushioned heel and forefoot sole are recommended. Supportive orthotic insoles can help effectively distribute weight and off-load pressure hot-spots. Offloading the forces will minimise the risk of corns developing. Moisturising your feet with a good foot cream such as Flexitol will keep your skin soft and supple. Applying a moisturising cream containing 10% urea can also help prevent corns from forming.
Verrucae are warts on the feet (plantar warts. They are passed on from person-to-person through the various strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Swimming pools and gyms are often places where the virus is contracted. This can be from another human contact, contaminated floors and shower areas. Family members sharing shower/bathing areas, bath mats etc are also known to be sources of infection.
A Verruca can appear anywhere on the foot and in multiple locations. They may appear to resemble the head of a cauliflower, with small black spots. These black spots are the dried blood capillaries that emanate through the wart. Multiple verrucae may join together to form a larger Mosaic Verruca.
When a verruca is on a non-weight-bearing area of the foot, the wart may sit proud of the skin surface. However, if the verruca is on a weight-bearing area, such as on the ball of the foot, the verruca will be pushed into the foot. However, there will normally be a build-up of callus around and over the verruca itself.
Verrucae can grow quickly and spread easily. Generally, verrucae do not hurt when pressed. However, when squeezed, severe discomfort may be felt. Because verrucae erupt through the skin, the striations (lines on the skin surface like fingerprints) will be forced around a verruca point of eruption.
Verrucae are contagious, whereas corns are compacted build-up of skin cells. Both can be painful and will require professional treatment by your Podiatrist or Foot Health Practitioner.