Corns and verrucae are similar in many ways. As qualified London chiropodists, we have the skills and expertise to easily distinguish between a corn and verruca, as well as successfully treat them both in our foot health clinics. But among individuals who haven’t trained in chiropody, they arguably get mistaken for each other more often than any other foot problems.
After all, corns and verrucae both tend to be circular and are a different colour to the rest of your skin. They can each appear as a single lesion or in a cluster. They’re both unpleasant to look at and can make you feel self-conscious (though we always reassure patients that they don’t need to be embarrassed when they visit our clinics). In addition, corns and verrucae are both typically found on the soles and toes.
What’s more, they’re both common foot issues. According to the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, corns may affect as many as 48% of people, while health resource Patient estimates that a third of individuals will have already had a verruca before reaching adulthood.
However, corn treatments are very different to verruca treatments. So if an area of your foot bears some of the hallmarks of corns and verrucae, it’s vital to ascertain which one is troubling you. Let’s discuss each in more detail.
Corns Are Your Foot’s Response to Friction
As Skinsight’s corn photos demonstrate, a corn is a roundish area of dense, hard skin that’s white or yellowish. Corns can be flat or raised and are usually smaller than a pea.
They may appear if part of your foot is repeatedly exposed to friction or pressure, as your skin thickens to protect itself. For example, if you often wear high heels, which put the balls of your feet under strain and squeeze your toes, you increase your risk of developing corns. People with gait abnormalities or foot deformities (such as hammer toes) are also more likely to suffer from them, because pressure isn’t distributed normally across the weight-bearing parts of their feet.
Corns feel tender, while the skin surrounding them may be red and inflamed. And as the Royal College of Podiatry points out, a corn typically has a ‘central core [that] may cause pain if it presses on a nerve’. Indeed, it’s not unusual for individuals with severe corns to find them agonising when they exert pressure on them.
Verrucae Are Caused by a Viral Infection
If you look at images of verrucae, you’ll notice they can be a similar colour to corns (though sometimes they look grey instead) and are also either flat or raised. However, a verruca is less uniform in colour and has a more irregular border. Plus, verrucae often grow larger than corns.
Verrucae also have a different cause: they’re the result of your foot being infected by certain strains of HPV (Human papillomavirus). For instance, if you walk barefoot over a contaminated floor (in the changing rooms at a gym, say) and you have broken or damp skin, you may catch the virus. Verrucae are contagious; they can spread to other areas of your feet or other people’s feet.
Whereas corns tend to be painful if pressed, a verruca is more likely to hurt if pinched.
Two of the most tell-tale signs of a verruca are visible if you look at the lesion with a magnifying glass. You’ll see black dots (where blood has leaked from capillaries), and the skin’s natural lines (called striations) won’t be present.
Key Lifestyle Factors
Your age, lifestyle and the condition of your skin may also provide clues about whether you’re more likely to have a corn or verruca. Corns are common among the elderly (as skin loses elasticity as we age), as well as people who have dry skin on their feet or wear uncomfortable footwear. Verrucae are usually more of a problem for people using communal facilities such as swimming pools.
Corn and Verruca Treatments from London Chiropodists
This article is designed to help you tell the difference between corns and verrucae. But for a firm diagnosis, you can always consult our London chiropodists. Plus, our chiropody treatments are more effective than over-the-counter products.
We treat corns by carefully filing away dead skin or removing it with a scalpel. We can also analyse your gait and then prescribe orthotic insoles to relieve pressure and optimise foot function.
Our verruca treatments include cryotherapy, acid-based remedies and Swift microwave energy (all of which eradicate infected cells), plus verruca needling (to stimulate your immune response).
Whether you have a corn or verruca, Feet By Pody can help – contact us today.