Falling Victim to Friction: Callous, Corns and Blisters

Your two kilometers into a five kilometer run in a new pair of shoes. Same brand and model as your last pair and have been your favorites for the last decade or so. But now your beginning to feel a hot spot, an area under your arch or toward your toes that is giving the signal that blister is about to form. Essentially, you only have a couple of options at this point; keep going and finish the last three kilometers and know when you get home you’ll be hobbling for the next couple of days. Two, turn back albeit to have to cover two kilometers anyway and probably end up hobbling for the next couple of days. Or three, laterally raise your arm and a thumb, hoping that the next nice person to pull over and offer you a lift is actually a legitimately nice person.
However, this scenario could have been avoided if you just took a little care and knew what to add, what to take away and what to wear when suffering from repeated callous, corns and blisters.

Blisters can be a nightmare; they can be painful, last for days and put you off physical activity for weeks. But there are a number of things which can be done to avoid developing blisters before they show up uninvited.
1. Make sure all new shoes, insoles or orthotic devices are worn in gradually, are fitted correctly in length and width as well as do not having any seams which will rub.

                 2. Adding products such as plasters (band-aids), gels and padding to protect the area which is suffering rubbing and the development of blisters can actually lead to increased blistering due to making the area of contact more prominent. These types of methods are best kept for once a blister has been lanced and released of exudates build up.

                 3. There are products which can be used to protect and toughen the skin against outside shear forces. The use of a Vaseline gel/wax can be used to deflect shear forces over the protective lubricant. Additionally, the use of a product such as Friar’s Balsam can be used over a number of weeks to increase the toughness of the often soft skin where a blister may be forming.

                 4. Talk to your local podiatrist and find out if the use of off-loading devices or orthotics can be used to reduce the amount of pressure occurring at the spot of issue and therefore limiting the chances for re-blistering.

Callus or hyperkeratosis as the podiatry community refer to it, is also developed under shearing pressures which cause the skin to thicken as a protect measure. Often an area which has blistered and re-blistered on multiple occasions will begin to develop a keratotic layer of skin, however, if only small amounts of this pressure is placed at the site of callus build up then it may take a couple of weeks or months for this to occur.
Corns develop from increased shearing forces which are pin-pointed to a particular spot. This usually occurs as callus builds up and spirals into the health underlying skin causing pain and discomfort, which is regularly described as stepping on a stone. These issues can be alleviated in a number of ways depending on how and where the corns and callus are developing.

       a) Stay away from over the counter products such as corn pads as they can cause more pain than you previously had. Corns need to be removed and this is best done by a podiatrist with a scalpel and sterilized tools.

       b) Off-loading devices and orthotics can be successful in reducing the speed or severity of the corns and calluses which are building up.

       c) Regular podiatrist visits can keep you out of pain and will provide you with the best information to reduce corn and callous development.

The debate of whether to add or subtract to footwear when a person is suffering from repeated epidermal stress continues, and where to place those additions/what kind of additions seems to be the where the main argument stems from. It has been concluded that the use of additions to footwear or the foot itself can increase the chances of blistering, however, strategically placed and tested additions, before a major competition may have its place in management of these issues.

Until next time, thanks for reading

Jackson McCosker
Director /Chief Editor

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