Corns, Calluses, Warts & Ingrown Toenails | Loyola Medicine

Corns, Calluses, Warts & Ingrown Toenails

Overview and Facts about Corns, Calluses, Warts, and Ingrown Toenails

Corns, calluses, warts, and ingrown toenails are a series of orthopaedic conditions in the foot that cause discomfort.

  • Corns are thick growths on the side of your feet or between your toes.
  • Calluses are a buildup of dead skin on the bottom of your feet.
  • Warts are thick growths on the sole of your foot, often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Ingrown toenails are when your toenails grow into the side of your skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Corns, Calluses, Warts, and Ingrown Toenails

Since these are four different problems, they each cause slightly different symptoms. However, one major symptom that links them all is pain or tenderness when you apply pressure to the area.

Symptoms for corns and calluses include:

  • Raised bumps on your foot.
  • Inflamed skin.
  • Dryness.

Symptoms for warts include:

  • Balls on your foot or heel that have tiny black spots in the center.

Symptoms for ingrown toenails include:

  • Redness and swelling.
  • Fluid buildup.
  • Infection of the toe.

Causes and Risk Factors of Corns, Calluses, Warts, and Ingrown Toenails

For both corns and calluses, the biggest cause is shoes that don’t fit correctly. When your shoes rub against your toes or distribute your weight unevenly, this contributes to the development of these two problems.

Warts, on the other hand, are typically a viral skin infection. They are commonly linked to HPV, a virus you can get through cuts in your skin or unprotected sex.

Finally, ingrown toenails are a result of trimming your nails incorrectly, having toes that are squished together, or putting a lot of pressure on your toes when running or doing other exercises.

As for risk factors, ingrown toenails do seem to have a genetic component, meaning you’re more likely to have them if a family member does. Corns and calluses are linked to other foot conditions, including bunions, hammer toe, and bone spurs. Meanwhile, walking around barefoot is a major risk factor for warts.

Tests and Diagnosis of Corns, Calluses, Warts, and Ingrown Toenails

Unlike many other orthopaedic conditions, corns, calluses, warts, and ingrown toenails can usually be diagnosed without imaging tests. Instead, your doctor will just perform a physical exam to confirm the problem. In some cases, your doctor may use an X-ray to make sure there are no other causes for your symptoms. In the case of warts, they may take a shave biopsy to confirm the diagnosis in a laboratory.

Treatment and Care for Corns, Calluses, Warts, and Ingrown Toenails

Treatment varies for each of these orthopaedic conditions.

For corns and calluses, you’ll want to soak your feet in lukewarm, soapy water and gently scrape the areas with a pumice stone. You can also have surgery to ease the internal pressure on your foot by removing a part of your bone.

For warts, your doctor may prescribe a topical medication to soften your skin and relieve your pain. They can also freeze off the wart.

Finally, ingrown toenails can be treated by having part of your toenail removed and by taking out the growth plate so it doesn’t come back.