Patches of hardened, yellowish skin on the soles keep recurring. Is it necessary to seek treatment?
Q: There are patches of skin on my soles that are hardened and yellowish. Although they go away after a while, I noticed they keep recurring at the same spot. What are these patches and can I get rid of them without seeing a doctor?
A: The hardened, yellowish patches of skin on the soles are known as corns. They tend to develop on the soles of the feet, which bear the pressure of the body’s weight.
Pressure or irritation caused by deformities or structural abnormalities of the foot and bones, poorly fitted shoes, or abnormal gait or way of walking, can also lead to corns developing.
Corns can be difficult to prevent and manage because they occur at small focal points of excessive pressure. The key to treatment is to reduce pressure on the corn.
Corn plasters may be used but only under the guidance of a podiatrist or medical professional. This is because these plasters typically contain salicylic acid, which can cause skin irritation or redness if not used properly. The podiatrist can remove the corn via surgical enucleation (removal of the hard centre), or prescribe orthotics (custom-made medical devices worn inside the shoes) to correct foot posture and take pressure away from the corn. Well-fitted footwear can reduce the chances of recurrence and build-up of the hard skin.
If the corn becomes painful or bleeds, consult a doctor or podiatrist.