Self-Treatment of Minor Foot Problems

W. Steven Pray, PhD, RPh


US Pharmacist. 2002;27(3) 

In This Article


The corn is a raised hyperkeratosis with a central core. Its etiology is friction of the toe against the shoe or against another toe, which tends to occur when the patient chooses shoes that are too tight. The patient with the condition known as hammertoe frequently has corns on the upper part of the deformed toes.[4] When corns are located between the toes, they are usually softer in texture. Those located on all other areas of the toes are harder to the touch when palpated. Regardless of location, as the patient ambulates, pressure against the corn causes it to press against the skin and nerve endings, which results in pain.

The corn serves no useful function, and can be effectively eliminated without consequences. However, the patient should avoid drastic methods of removal such as the dangerous razor-bladed implements popularly sold as "corn planes." In addition, such devices as pumice stone and corn files should generally be avoided. The safest and most effective nonprescription intervention is the use of salicylic acid in the form of plasters, disks, or collodions. Before use of salicylic acid, the patient should soak the corn for five minutes. This increases the ability of salicylic acid to macerate the skin, allowing it to slowly erode the corn. Collodions such as Freezone should be applied once or twice daily for up to two weeks by applying one drop at a time to the corn. Plasters such as Mediplast and disks or pads such as the extensive line of Dr. Scholl's Corn Removers (e.g., Dr. Scholl's Soft Corn Removers, Dr. Scholl's Ultra-Thin Corn Removers) are applied and removed as directed, usually after 48 hours. Application may be repeated every 48 hours for up to two weeks. Padding and protective cushioning may also be used to relieve discomfort.