By Fran Golden
What they feel like: Blisters are swellings filled with fluid which may or may not cause pain. A callus is a thickening of skin that is usually caused by pressure and can hurt when something rubs against it. A corn is the central core area of a callus that extends deeply and is commonly found on top of the toe.
Are they serious? No, unless they become infected. If you see redness or swelling, talk to your doctor.
What causes them: Ill-fitting shoes are probably the culprits. Friction can create all three conditions, especially when your feet repeatedly rub against the insides of your footwear.
How to prevent them: "The first most essential piece of walking equipment is a well-fitted, well-supportive walking sneaker," says Bryan Markinson, DPM, Chief of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at the Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Look for footwear with a rigid sole and a back that hugs the outside of your heel. If you?re prone to corns, make sure the top of the shoe is high enough to accommodate your toes. Keeping your feet dry can also stave off blisters. Invest in wicking socks that remove moisture from skin, rather than cotton or nylon socks that let your feet sit in sweat.
How to treat them: Whatever you do, don't pop a blister—that could lead to infection, according to Dr. Markinson. Put on a clean bandage on it, instead. When it bursts on its own, leave the skin on to act as its own sterile dressing. Moisturizing lotions, like AmLactin, soften corns and calluses, while lubricating ointments, like Vaseline, reduce friction around them when you're wearing shoes. If a corn or callus is really bugging you, a podiatrist can shave it down.