Everything You Need to Know About Corns, Calluses, Plantar Warts and Ingrown Toenails

Our feet and ankles take on a lot of work throughout our days. With such heavy usage, it’s no wonder that developing foot or ankle conditions isn’t uncommon. Some of the most common foot problems people suffer from include calluses, corns, warts and ingrown toenails. The good news is, they’re all treatable. If you’re dealing with any of these conditions and their painful symptoms, learn more about treatment options and how to prevent them down the road.

Foot Corns: Causes & Treatment Options

How do foot corns form?

A corn is a thickened growth that forms on feet as a protection in response to repeated rubbing, pressure and irritation from your shoes. Corns can either be found on the top or sides of your foot or in between your toes. They are formed of living tissue, often times making them painful and bothersome.

How do you get rid of corns?

There are a few treatment options when it comes to removing painful corns. Over-the-counter medications are available in liquid form or medicated adhesive cushions and applying them will soften and reduce corns overtime. While over-the-counter treatment options can provide temporary relief, there’s a chance your corns can come back. For long-lasting relief, you should see a foot and ankle specialist who can treat your painful corns and help ensure they do not return.

Calluses: Causes & Treatment Options

What causes a plantar callus?

As you walk or move around, friction occurs on your foot. In response, a callus forms. Calluses are a thick buildup of dead skin cells that act as a cushion on the bottom of your foot to protect the muscles and bones. Like corns, they can become large and even painful when direct pressure is applied to the callus.

Corns vs. Plantar Calluses

While plantar calluses and foot corns are similar and often associated with each other, they have a few distinct differences. Calluses tend to be larger and wider, forming as pads on the underside of the foot. Corns are small and circular forming on the top or bottom of the foot over bones. Corns tend to be harder and more painful than calluses.

How do you get rid of plantar calluses?

There are a couple of plantar callus removal options you can consider:
  • Using a pumice stone to remove the layers of the dead skin will help reduce the callus until it is completely removed.
  • For persistent calluses, you should see a podiatrist who has the professional tools, liquids and methods to reduce and remove the callus faster and easier.

How Do Calluses Form Under Toenails?

Plantar calluses don’t only form on the bottom of the foot, but can appear beneath your toenail causing discomfort and even pain. These types of calluses typically form on people suffering from bunions or hammertoes. Tight shoes and sweaty feet are common risk factors as well.

How To Get Rid Of Calluses Under Toenails

Calluses that form under the toenail can be treated the same as plantar calluses that are found on the bottom of the foot. The first thing you should try if you notice a callus under your toenail is to wear open-toed shoes. This will help relieve pressure and pain.

Plantar Warts: Causes & Treatment Options

How do you get plantar warts?

Plantar warts are thickened growths on the sole of your foot. They are a result of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be acquired in a gym dressing room, public spa or any place where other people with plantar warts walk around barefoot.

What are plantar wart treatment options?

  • Over-the-Counter Acid Treatment: Applying an over-the-counter caustic acid to the wart will eliminate the HPV virus. However, this treatment option works slowly and can take many weeks, or even months, to diminish your plantar warts.
  • Surgery or Cryotherapy From a Foot & Ankle Specialist: For a quicker and more effective treatment, you should see a foot and ankle specialist who can treat your plantar warts with proprietary medications that will eliminate them. For warts that are painful or spreading, plantar wart removal surgery or cryotherapy are the most effective treatment options for you. With a short recovery time of between one and two weeks, wart removal surgery is your fastest and most effective option. It’s important to keep in mind that without removing the virus, there is always the possibility of warts reappearing in other areas of the body.

Ingrown Toenails: Causes & Treatment Options

What causes an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails are painful and develop when the nail grows into the side of the toe. They are usually red, swollen and painful making them easy to detect. Ingrown toenails typically develop from a toe injury or ill-fitting shoes.

Ingrown Toenail Treatment from a Foot & Ankle Specialist

For long-lasting treatment, see a foot and ankle specialist who can trim the ingrown toenail so that it doesn’t continue to grow into your toe. If you’ve tried these treatment options and are still suffering from an ingrown toenail, your podiatrist may suggest surgery. Ingrown toenail surgery involves the partial or full removal of your toenail depending on your condition, and has a full recovery time of about two weeks. However, you can return to normal activity the next day.

What happens if an ingrown toenail goes untreated?

Leaving an ingrown toenail untreated can result in a serious infection of the underlying bone. If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, an untreated ingrown toenail can eventually lead to poor blood flow and damaged nerves in the feet making it important to act if you’re experiencing ingrown toenail symptoms.

Get Foot Pain Relief from the Experts at East Village Foot & Ankle Surgeons


For the fastest and most effective treatment for any of the above foot conditions, contact Dr. Justin Raatz and the team of professionals at East Village Foot & Ankle Surgeons in Des Moines and Mason City. He and his staff can examine your feet, reduce and eliminate your foot and ankle problems and get you on the path to pain-free living.