Seed corn foot is caused by pressure on any part of the foot, but mainly around the periphery of the heel or the ball of the foot. The condition can attack anyone, but the best way to prevent it from happening is to avoid causing pressure on the foot.
What is Seed Corn Foot?
Seed corn foot, also known as clavi or heloma, is a circular patch of skin that has been hardened or thickened and discolored because of repeated pressure, friction, dry skin or irritation. Medically, the condition of the tough dead skin is known as hyperkeratosis. Seed corn foot differs from callus in that corn is conical or circular, while a callus is generally flat and diffused.
Causes of Seed Corn Foot
One of the main reasons that the feet develop corns is as a way of protecting the skin from the strain, pressure, resistance and weight. However, the most common reason why corns develop is ill-fitting shoes. They are not a severe condition, but an affected individual can seek treatment if they become painful and irritating.
- Shoes - when footwear fits too tightly, it can cause pressure on certain parts of the feet. High heels are also known to cause strain on feet when worn for extended periods. Shoes that fit too loosely may have some parts of the feet press against some parts of the shoe, for example, along the line of stitching. Narrow pointy-toed footwear increases the risk of the feet experiencing pressure at the edges. They also press the toes closely together, causing corns to develop between them.
- Socks - failing to wear socks with shoes or sandals can expose the feet to unnecessary friction. On the other hand, socks that are too tight can lead to the development of seed corns.
- Deformities of the feet - deformities like bunions, which are bony, abnormal bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe and hammertoe can be sources of corns. The hammertoe happens when the toe becomes bent at the middle joint because of weakened muscles, making it resemble a small hammer. Other deformities include bony spurs which are projections that appear on the sides of the bones, and which may cause rubbing against the toe in the shoe.
- Participation in a lot of activity - people who are on their feet for most of their time are likely to develop corns than those who are less active. Their feet are exposed to more friction and pressure, but this is no excuse to stay sedentary.
- Increased BMI - a high Body Mass Index is likely to cause an increase of pressure on the areas that bear the most weight, such as the ball of the foot and the heel. Increased pressure and strain leads to the formation of corns and calluses.
- Loss of fatty protection in the skin - during birth, the heel and ball of the foot contain a lot of fatty padding. With age, the padding and with increased movement, the padding slowly thins out, exposing the bones in the feet to more pressure and hence increases their risk of corns and calluses.
Symptoms of Seed Corn Foot
Foot corns are in four types: hard corns, soft corns, seed corns and heloma molle. Each has a different appearance and feel, but what is common in all of them is the pain.
- Hard corns are small spherical patches of dead skin and have a central core.
- Soft corns usually appear between the toes and have a thin surface. They are less common than the hard corns.
- Seed corns are bumpy, tiny and tender and generally appear on the sole. Seed corns should not be confused with plantar pits that are triggered by skin conditions like psoriasis.
- Heloma Molle is found in the middle of the fourth and fifth toe and they are more painful than the rest because they appear at the most tender part of the foot.
To determine if what you have is on your feet is seed corn
- Observe the skin of the affected area for redness and inflammation, which is common at the edges of the corn. Corns are generally gray at the center and have a yellowish surrounding.
- Gently press the spot, which should be hard at the center if a corn is present. If it is painful, it is an indication of a corn because calluses are generally not painful.
- If you are not sure what it is, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for confirmation, especially if you have severe pain, have a suppressed immune system or have diabetes.
How to treat Seed Corns at home
As a tip, soak your feet in warm salty water to soften the skin that forms the corn. Gently use a pumice stone to run away the patch of hardened skin. Use topical mixtures in your water for more effectiveness. However, do not scrub too hard as this could tear off the skin beneath the corn and cause an infection.
In addition to foot soaks, you can use bandages to help alleviate the pain. If the level of pain is unbearable, see a podiatrist. Do not give in to the temptation to cut off the corn by yourself as this is a method that is best left to the professionals.
In the short term, proper removal of corns by a qualified specialist provides immediate relief from pain. The process of removing them is usually not painful, and often, the scar will be dressed if the skin is broken or is at risk of getting infected.
In the long term, treatment of corns should aim at addressing the underlying cause of the condition. There is need to eliminate the real cause of the problem to prevent recurrence of corns. Your specialist might recommend specially designed padding, which offloads pressure from one area and redistributes it to another. Footwear education is also provided.
Do not ignore Seed Corn Foot
Not giving the necessary attention to corns and calluses might cause increased pressure, which will, in turn, cause the deeper levels of the skin to break down. The breakdown can result in wounds and ulcers that can severely damage the feet, especially for patients with diabetes or whose immune system is compromised. Treating feet sores can be a complicated affair. To avoid this, regularly check your feet for corns well in advance.