A corn is one of the painful results of civilisation, or, precisely, the result of clothing the feet uncomfortably. It is a mistake to suppose, however, that corns and callosities are modern troubles, for the first recipe for a corn-plaster is extremely ancient. It consisted of soap; and soap is yet found to be of use in this direction, for, if nothing else be available, a soap-plaster is readily made by thickly smearing a small piece of blotting-paper with any soap at hand. Soldiers, when on long marches, rub the heels of their socks and the corresponding inner parts of their boots with soap, and this plan has been followed with success by other pedestrians.
Both corns and callosities - which are practically corns spread over a greater surface, than a corn - are caused by the pressure of a too-small boot or the friction of ill-fitting footwear. It follows, therefore, that nothing can be done to cure the pain until the cause is removed. Change the footgear, and relieve all pressure. This can be effected by means of the familiar amadou plaster.
The corn generally appears as an ovoid, conical body, causing pain, not in itself, but by pressing upon the tender skin immediately beneath it. The amadou plaster is an adaptation of the suggestion by Sir Benjamin Brodie, who recommended a small, circular piece of leather, or amadou, spread with diachylon.
Some corns, however, cannot be relieved in this way because they come between the toes. They are caused by the hardening of the skin between the toes in Nature's attempt to adapt her handiwork to its uncomfortable environment. The perspiration - enhanced by the discomfort and the want of ventilation - -keep these corns soft. It is of painful interest to the sufferer to calculate which variety of corn is the most objectionable, but a soft carn can, perhaps, be cured more quickly. Relieve the pressure, and every morning place a little cotton-wool between the toes. At night bathe in warm water to which has been added a little soda, and then massage with linseed oil. If a little oil is left between the toes, and bed-socks worn for the sake of cleanliness, the cure will be more rapid. This also will be found to be a beneficial treatment for tired feet, and will soften callosities.
The use of a knife or scissors, however, for the removal of a corn is a treatment which is greatly to be deprecated. Even in skilled hands there is a danger of the healthy skin being cut, and in any case the use of a sharp instrument probably not as effective - though it may give a more immediate result - than some application containing salicylic acid. There are many of these, and the following is typical: Salicylic acid . . . . 1 drachm Resin ointment .. .. 7 drachms Melt the ointment, and stir in the acid. Apply carefully night and morning, using no more than absolutely necessary to cover the corn. [If used carelessly much pain is cause 1 by burning the adjacent tender skin.]
A more elaborate recipe, which is sometimes claimed to remove the corn "in a night," is:
Salicylic acid . . .. 1 gramme Extract cannibas Indica 50 centigrammes Solve in:
Rectified spirits of wine 3 1/2 grammes Flexible collodion .. 5 grammes Keep the bottle well stoppered. Paint the lotion on the corn with a camel's-hair brush every other day. Bathe daily, using the corn solvent after the bath.
Cauterisers should be used with extreme care, for a drop going upon the sensitive skin will cause extreme pain by burning. Cauterisers, at the same time, have their place, and will effectively remove very definite-looking warts, as well as a hard, aggressive corn. The simplest recipe, probably, is to mix equal parts of*' acetic acid and tincture of iodine. Use one drop night and morning till the abnormal growth is destroyed.
Callosities will appear on the feet under all conditions, and probably the ancients often had to remove their sandals, bathe the feet, and use pumice-stone to rub down the hard skin. Finally adding a soap-plaster, they completed a process which is still one of the best. Painful callositi may be smeared with a solution of salicylic acid as in the two recipes given.
Of the many quack remedies for corns, one may be mentioned, as there is some reason in the choice of the ingredients. Chloride of lime was mixed to a paste with linseed oil, and the painful corn was smeared with this, bandaged, and left all night. The chloride of lime no doubt burned away the hardened skin, now softened by the oil, for relief was very quickly obtained. To be continued.