How Runners Can Prevent and Treat Corns

foot corns
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I never truly understood how painful and debilitating corns can be for runners until I developed one on my right foot a couple of years ago. The pain and discomfort while running was so bad that I had to take off two weeks from running until it went away.

If you're dealing with a corn, here are some tips on how to treat them, and how to prevent them in the first place.

Symptoms of Corns:

Corns are hard, painful lumps on the skin.

 They tend to develop on areas of your feet that don't bear weight, such as the tops and sides of your toes. Corns usually have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin.  You'll usually feel pain when putting pressure on the corn.

Causes of Corns:

Corns are caused by constant rubbing and pressure from shoes that are too tight. They can also be a result of wearing shoes and sandals without socks, which can cause friction on your feet. Socks that don't fit properly or have rough seams can also lead to corns. People with other foot issues such as calluses, bunions, hammertoes, or bone spurs may be at greater risk for getting corns.

How to Prevent Corns:

Make sure you're not wearing shoes that are not long enough or too narrow. You should have plenty of room in the toebox and be able to wiggle your toes easily. If you're having trouble finding the right fit and comfort for your running shoes, consult a podiatrist to see if orthotics may be necessary.

Don't wear sandals that are uncomfortable, rub in certain spots, or are ill-fitting. If you already have a corn, use a layer of Vaseline over it to prevent more corns from forming.

How to Treat Corns:

For many people, once you eliminate the source of friction or pressure, the corn will disappear on its own.

If you've already tried wearing shoes that fit properly and the corn is not clearing up, you can try using a corn remover.  Corn removers, which are sold at most drugstores, are small adhesive bandages with a medicated, cushioned pad that fits over the corn.

Not only does the corn remover provide some relief from the pain and discomfort, the medication on it also helps to dissolve the corn. You may also use a pumice stone, nail file or emery board to smooth away dead skin before applying a new patch. Your doctor may suggest applying an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. It may take a few patches to clear up the corn completely. When I was dealing with a corn and had been in pain for about a week, I finally used a couple of corn removers over a few days and the corn cleared up fairly quickly.

If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow, consult your doctor before treating a corn on your own. If the corn is very painful, you may need to have it professionally removed with a scalpel. Don't try this yourself because it could lead to an infection.

Source: "Corns and Calluses",, accessed 12/15

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