This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
A corn is a callus produced upon the toes by pressure, or friction. Although there are many different varieties of corns, they are generally classified as soft and hard. Soft corns are generally situated between the toes, and arise from pressure of the toes together. The moisture of the skin which is confined by the contact of the toes, keeps the callus from becoming hard, as would be the case in other situations.
Hard corns are much more common, and are found upon the prominent parts of the toes. Hard corns are generally made up of a number of layers of thickened epidermis, as shown in Fig. 404. When neglected, they may become the source of much pain and inconvenience. The pair is generally of a burning, lancinating character.
Fig. 404. Hard Corns.
The treatment is very simple, but needs to be applied with great perseverance. Soak the feet in hot water once or twice a day, then apply to the center of the com a little acetic acid with the end of a pine stick. By this means, the hardened skin will be softened, and it may be easily scraped away with a dull knife, or rubbed down with a piece of fine sand-paper or pumice-stone. Prof. Syme, a noted Scotch surgeon, also recommends, in addition to these measures, the application of nitrate of silver over the center of the spot from which the com has been removed, as a means of preventing its return. When the corn is very hard, it should be covered with a compress wet in a strong solution of soda or saleratus, which should be kept on every night.
In order to prevent its return after removal, the part must be protected from pressure. The best means of doing this is to cover the toe with a piece of soft buckskin saturated with oil, having an opening cut in it the size of the com so as to bring the pressure upon the surrounding parts and relieve the diseased portion of skin. This is especially useful in cases in which the tissues have become very sensitive from long pressure. The operation performed by corn doctors for the removal of these troublesome callosities is seldom effective, as the corn is always sure to return. Almost any one can perform the same operation after softening the corn in the manner directed, by seizing the center of the corn with a proper pair of pincers and working carefully between the hard tissues composing the corn and the healthy skin, with a penknife. In applying strong acetic acid or nitrate of silver to corns, care should be taken not to encroach upon the sound skin, and it is a good plan to oil the skin about the corn before making the application, as a means of protection.
Soft corns should be treated by means of astringent applications, as a strong solution of tannin in water or glycerine, a decoction of oak-bark, or a mixture of equal parts of powdered alum and white of egg. It is also important to separate the toes by placing between them a little wad of cotton or lint.