What Causes Corns on Feet, Bottom of Foot, Ball, Heel, Pinky Toe, between Toes, on Hands, Palm & Fingers?

What causes corns? Why is the big toe and pinky toe more vulnerable to corns? Can you also develop corns on your hands, palms or between your fingers? Explore the various possible causes of corns on the bottom or top of your feet, on your big toe, pinky toe or between your toes. Furthermore, find out what may cause corns on your hands, palms and between your fingers. Read on to obtain in-depth facts about causes of corns clearly illustrated with vital descriptive pictures.

What Are Corns

Understanding what corns are and what causes them will enable you to learn how you can get rid of and prevent them. So, what are corns? If a particular area of your skin experiences constant excessive pressure or friction, it will harden to enable it withstand the pressure and friction in order to protect itself and inner tissues from being damaged.  A corn is the layer of your skin that is thickened and hardened as a result of attempting to protect itself from undue pressure and friction.

Probably, it is still necessary to distinguish between corns and calluses, as they may look similar but are not the same. Why? You need to be sure of what you are getting rid of in order to apply appropriate and effective methods to get desirable results. Other skin problems which may also be mistaken for corns include cysts and warts.

Signs and Symptoms of Corns

The common signs and symptoms of corns include:

  1. Thickened circular area of skin
  2. Hardened and often raised area that looks like a bump on skin
  3. Pain under a hard area on your skin
  4. Dry or waxy or translucent skin

Note that these signs and symptoms may indicate presence of corns only when they occur on areas that usually experience excessive pressure or friction. Corns commonly form on the following areas:

  • On the sole, ball or heel of your foot
  • On toes, especially on top or between your toes
  • On the side of the pinky toe or big toe
  • On hands, especially on the palms of your hand.
  • On your fingers or between your fingers, though rarely

Types of Corns

There are various types of corns that may develop on your skin. Location, cause and nature of your skin are the factors that may influence the type of corns that form on your skin. It is imperative to be in a position to distinguish them, as you will be able to identify the best way to deal with the type that you have. Different types of corns may require different approaches to eliminate them. The common types of corns that you may develop include:

  1. Soft corns: They are stretchy and tough skin areas that are whitish in color. Soft corns usually develop between toes due to moist conditions that may be caused by sweaty feet or failure to dry your legs thoroughly before putting on your shoes.
  2. Hard Corns: They consist of a skin area that has a hard middle part, with a thickened inflamed area around it. Hard corns usually develop on top of toes, and on big toe and pinky toe. They may also develop on bottom of foot, on heel, palms and on fingers.
  3. Seed corns: Seed corns are small spots of hardened skin that develop individually or in groups. They usually occur on the bottom of feet and are usually not painful.
  4. Fibrous corns: If corns exist on your skin for too long, they may become deeply rooted into the tissues. Such corns are referred to as fibrous corns. Fibrous corns may be painful due to the fact that they affect deeper tissues under the skin.
  5. Vascular corns: As the term suggests, vascular corns are characterized by presence of blood vessels within them. Consequently, vascular corns may be very painful. Besides, they may bleed a lot if disturbed or cut, due to the presence of many blood vessels in them.

Diagnosis of Corns on Feet, Hands, Toes of Fingers

To diagnose corns, your doctor may carry out procedures that will accurately identify the cause of your skin abnormalities. The doctor may use the following ways to diagnose corns:

  1. Physical examination: Your doctor will physically examine your feet or hands to determine whether your skin lesions are actually corns. The doctor will be interested in eliminating the possibility of your skin problem being calluses, cysts or warts.
  2. Use of an X-ray: The doctor may decide to use an x-ray to positively determine whether your skin problem is a corn, and rule out other skin abnormalities like calluses, cysts or warts.

What causes Corns on Various Parts of Your Feet and Hands?

You can best manage, get rid of or prevent corns if you understand what causes them. So, let us begin by highlighting the general causes of corns on the various parts of your feet or hands.

Usually, causes of corns revolve around factors that may cause particular areas of your skin to experience regular excessive pressure or friction. Specifically, some of the common causes of corns include:

  1. Tight-fitting shoes: poorly fitting shoes will no doubt subject some areas of your feet to excessive pressure and rubbing and this may lead to the formation of corns. Some types of fashion shoes are narrow shaped especially towards the toes. This may clamp your toes together under pressure and friction, resulting in the formation of corns on the pinky toe or between toes.
  2. High heeled shoes: High heeled shoes are also fashionable but may dispose your legs awkwardly and subject some parts of your feet to pressure and friction. If used regularly, the constant pressure and friction may result in the formation of corns.
  3. Not wearing socks: Socks give cushioning effect that protect vulnerable parts of your feet from excessive pressure and friction. Therefore, failure to wear socks regularly may subject some parts of your feet to pressure and friction and encourage development of corns.
  4. Too much walking: A lot of walking is generally healthy to your body. However, too much walking my subject some parts of your feet to undue pressure and friction that may result in the formation of corns.
  5. Walking barefoot: If you regularly walk barefoot, especially on rocky or uneven hard ground, you are likely to develop corns due to the uneven pressure experienced on your feet.

    Walking barefoot may cause corns of your feet
    Walking barefoot may cause corns on your feet
  6. Walking on slopes: Walking down a slope or up a hill disposes your feet within your shoes such that some areas of the feet experience pressure and friction. Hence, such walks may result in the formation of corns is they are regular.
  7. Abnormal walking gait: You may naturally have an awkward walking gait. Otherwise, you may adopt an abnormal walking gait due to peer influence. Bad walking gaits may dispose your feet in a way that make some parts experience undue pressure. Consequently, you may end up developing corn in the affected areas of your feet.
  8. Foot and hand abnormalities: Foot abnormalities are very common causes of corns on feet. Common foot abnormalities such as bunions, hammer toes and born spurs dispose some of the foot parts in a way that make them automatically experience too much pressure and friction from footwear, leading to the formation of corns on feet. Similar abnormalities may also be present on the hands and fingers of some individuals and hence predispose you to developing corns on your hands or fingers.
  1. Regular use of hand tools: The main cause of corns on fingers and palms is regular handling and use of hand tools, especially when this happens without protection to your hands. Hand tools are usually hard and some have edges that exert pressure and produce friction on your hands and fingers when you carry or use them.
  2. Regular playing of instruments: Paying some instruments with your hands or fingers regularly may equally cause corns.
  3. Some occupational duties: Your occupation may also determine the type of activities you regularly engage in. If such activities entail subjecting your hands or feet to constant pressure and friction, they may lead to the development of corns. For example, tea plucking or carpentry and hand tool occupation may cause corns on your palms or fingers.
  4. Regular activities and exercises: Sporting activities or any other activities which repeatedly apply pressure on your feet or hands may cause corns to form on the areas that are affected.
  5. Long toe nails: You might have long toes for cosmetic purposes, especially if you are a lady. However, many individuals end up with long toenails because of negligence. This is probably because their feet are always in shoes and no one may know that their toenails are overgrown. Long toenails are likely to push your toes backwards forcing them to bend and protrude upwards along their joints. This is probably the main cause of corns on top of toes.
  1. Skinny toes and fingers: Bonny toes or fingers may predispose an individual to corns. Naturally, bonny or skinny areas will enhance the effect of friction and pressure on your skin. The bones provide a compact base against which the pressure or friction on your skin acts, resulting in a higher overall effect.
  2. Underlying health issues: If you suffer from conditions that may hinder proper blood circulation into your feet or hands, for example diabetes, you are more likely to develop corns.
  3. Damaged skin: Occasionally, corns may be caused by scars and injured sweat glands. Scars or damaged sweat glands may result in irregular skin structure which in turn may result in uneven distribution of pressure and friction on your foot or hand skin. The areas that are strained by pressure and friction are likely develop corns.
  4. Aging: As you get aged you develop weaker tissues with less fats. As a result, the underlying bonny structures become more exposed through the thin and weaker tissues. Consequently, the effect of pressure and friction on your skin become more pronounced and hence your skin becomes more susceptible to formation of corns.

What Causes Corns on Feet or on Top of Foot

Corns on top of foot are often caused by putting on tight-fitting shoes or high heeled shoes regularly. However, too much walking or walking barefoot are also likely to cause corns on feet.  Furthermore, failure to wear socks regularly may also result in corns, especially on top of foot or side of foot. This is due to the fact that rubbing of your footwear against these parts is more pronounced when you fail to wear socks.

Causes of Corns on Bottom or Sole of Your Foot

The major causes of corns on bottom of foot or sole is walking barefoot or using worn out shoes with irregular base. However, abnormal waking gait may also result in corns on the bottom of your feet.

What Causes Corns on Toes, Pikey Toe (little toe) or Big Toe

The usual causes of corns on toes are ill-fitting shoes or pointed shoes. Corns on pinky toe and big toe are caused by the regular use of sharp pointed shoes. These shoes keep them under pressure for long hours per day.

The position of the big toe and the pinky toe to the far ends of the feet expose them to constant pressure and friction from footwear, making them more vulnerable to corns.  However, you may develop corns on toes if you have deformities on them, especially bunion. In fact another major cause of corns on the big toe is the bunion deformity.

What Causes Corns between Toes, 4th and 5th Toe

Corns between toes are very common. Narrow or pointed shoes are the main causes of corns between toes. The toes get clogged with each other within the pointed shoes.  Consequently, the undue pressure and friction between the toes strains the skin between the toes resulting in the formation of soft corns.

What Are the Causes of Corns on Ball of your Foot?

Corns may develop on ball of foot due to the strain caused by undue pressure and rubbing due to too much walking or walking barefoot. Failure to put on socks may also result in corns on ball of foot, especially if your shoes are worn out.

Causes of Corns on Your Heels or Back of Foot?

There are a number of reasons why corns may develop on your heel. The main cause is foot deformity called heel spur, which may subject the heel to excessive pressure and friction. “A heel spur is a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone” [WebMD]. Nevertheless, you can still develop corns on your heel if you do too much walking or walking barefoot.

What May Cause Corns on Your Hands or Palms?

Regular use of hand tools such as carpentry may result in regular undue pressure and friction in particular parts of your hands. Likewise, certain exercises that involve hands may have the same effect. This is more so when you do the job without protective gear on your hands. Consequently, corns may develop on hands, especially on your palms.

What Causes Corns on Fingers or between Your Fingers?

As ready mention, corns on fingers and between fingers may be as a result of pressure and friction related to your occupational duties. Jobs that involve constant use of fingers, such as tea picking, may lead to the formation of corns on your fingers. If you pick tea regularly early in the morning when it is still damp with dew, corns may develop between your fingers.

Equally, activities like regular playing of instruments such as a guitar, may have the same effect leading to formation of corns on fingers. Other such activities include exercises involving hands and fingers such as press-ups on hard and irregular ground.

What are the Causes of Seed Corns on Foot?

Seed corns on feet are caused by regular barefoot trek on ground, especially on a ground with small stones or rough particles. The irregular hard ground or particles exert excessive pressure and friction at different points on the bottom of your feet as you walk. In response the parts of the foot that are affected harden for protection, resulting in tiny hard spots on bottom of feet. Seed corns may develop in clusters or as separate entities.

What Causes Infected Corns on Your feet or Hands?

If harmful bacteria finds its way into a corn, it may infect it. An infected corn is usually painful and may feel hot. Also, infected corns usually contain pus.

Now that you know what causes corns, you can learn more about corns on feet. Likewise, you may be interested in how to get rid of and prevent corns on feet, toes, pinky toe, hands, naturally, surgically and permanently. In case you have any comment you would like to share, kindly feel free to share it in our comment section below.

Our sources and References

  1. Corns and Calluses: http://patient.info/health/corns-and-calluses
  2. Corns and Calluses: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/corns_and_calluses/article_em.htm
  3. Corns and calluses: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/CornsandCalluses/Pages/whatarecornsandcalluses.aspx
  4. What are corns and calluses? What causes corns and calluses? http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172459.php
  5. Understanding Corns and Calluses — the Basics: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/understanding-corns-calluses-basics


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