Is The Lump On Your Foot A Corn Or A Wart?

Is The Lump On Your Foot A Corn Or A Wart?

Every year, we see a number of patients who have had repeated treatments for their warts, or corns, with no success and plenty of ongoing pain – or even new pain created by the treatment method. When we examine them – there’s one thing that the majority of them have in common: they’ve been treated for the wrong problem

This misdiagnosis is more common than you think because to the untrained eye, warts and corns can look very similar. Especially when you consider that both corns and warts often develop an outer layer of callused skin – making them undistinguishable unless the callus is debrided and the features of the culprit of your pain are exposed.

Today, our podiatry team is filling you in on the differences between warts and corns, how to spot them, and how each is (very differently) treated.

How to identify a corn

If you have a corn, once any callus is paired back, or if there’s little callus to start with, you’ll quickly notice a deeper, darkened circular patch that seems to go down into the foot. The corn itself won’t protrude as a big mass above the skin (though the overlying callus may do so). If you push directly down onto the corn, you’ll likely elicit some pain. You won’t have so much pain when you squeeze the corn from the sides, however. It’s unlikely that there will have been any bleeding in the area, so you shouldn’t expect to see dried blood – or any blood vessels to the area.

Corns develop as a result of excess pressure or friction being repeatedly applied to a specific area of the foot. Hence, corns often develop on weight-bearing areas or areas that tend to rub, like the ball of the foot, the tips and sides of the toes, between the toes, and on the heel. Corns have no living component, and no blood or nerve supply. 

Professionally treating corns is simple and relatively painless. We use podiatric tools to ‘scoop’ out the corn, removing it instantly from the foot. This process is very effective and in most cases does not cause any bleeding or discomfort. 

Identifying a wart

Plantar warts, or as we medically refer to them – verrucae pedis, are living and growing masses. Caused by a virus that invades the cells called the human papillomavirus, warts get their own blood and nerve supply, meaning that if you ‘cut’ a wart, it’ll be painful and bleed. Warts can spread spontaneously, can pop up on any part of the foot both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing, and can reappear in the future with little notice or warning signs.

After any callus overlying a wart is debrided, you’ll notice a rougher, uneven-looking mass that tends to protrude above the skin – as well as being situated well below it too. Applying direct pressure down onto the wart may or may not cause pain but squeezing the wart from both sides will definitely cause you to jump. You’ll likely notice some dried blood in the area, which may look like small brown dots, or the wart may even bleed when you remove the overlying callus (don’t worry – this is completely normal). You’ll also notice that the lines in the skin move around the wart, whereas in corns the lines tend to go over and through the corn.

Here at Marlborough Podiatry, we treat warts using Thuja, a topical skin ointment. We start by debriding any overlying callus to expose the wart, applying the thuja ointment, and then occluding the wart. We find this method to be effective while creating minimal discomfort for our patients. 

Here are the results of a recent patient who had been battling warts for years and had tried everything. The time to the final result was four months.

The right treatment is key

When it comes to treating warts and corns, having the right treatment is key – as is understanding how it’s working. We often see patients for corn removals after they’ve previously tried an at-home corn pad that they picked up from the pharmacy. What many people don’t realise is that this pad is filled with an acid that is designed to eat away at the hard skin composing the corn. Unfortunately, the acid doesn’t differentiate between the corn and the healthy, viable skin surrounding the corn – so it reaches the healthy skin and starts causing skin damage and a great deal of pain. This can be very dangerous – especially if you have a condition that impairs your ability to heal and fight infection like diabetes.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to that painful lump on your foot – regardless of what it is – we’re here to help. Book your appointment online here or call us on (03) 972 2927

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