Diabetics commonly have corns and calluses on their feet, which are the result of abnormal skin pressure due to an underlying prominent bone that presses skin into a shoe in the case of a corn or the ground below in the case of a callus. These corns and calluses can either be simply a nuisance, or they can cause pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, these pressure areas can lead to skin wounds if the corn or callus is not kept thin, as the pressure from a thick callus can lead to death of the healthy skin below, leading to a diabetic ulcer.
Since corns and callus care is so very important for diabetics, the need for proper treatment becomes vital in the effort to protect the skin of the foot from harm. Unfortunately, many diabetics go about this the wrong way, and cause more harm than good. Since diabetics often have poor sensation in the feet, the act of trying to shave one's own corns or calluses is obviously a poor choice, as it is too easy to accidentally cut into the flesh without feeling much pain, which can lead to an infection. However, another more dangerous treatment solution lurks innocently on pharmacy shelves, luring unsuspecting diabetics.
Medicated corn pads may sound benign, but are actually quite dangerous to someone with skin at risk of harm, such as diabetics and those with poor circulation. These 'medicated' pads usually contain salicylic acid, which is anything but medicine. This acid is used legitimately to dissolve hard skin, often for treatment of warts and other skin lesions. While it can be used to dissolve callus tissue, the problem lies in how the acid solution is applied to the skin. Salicylic acid and similar compounds do not make a distinction between callus tissue and the surrounding healthy skin. When applied for a prolonged period of time, or when placed too generously on skin, the acid will actually eat away at healthy tissue, causing a chemical burn. Diabetics will not 'feel' this damage, and will not know to remove the pad in time. Even accurate applications of the acid only on the corn or callus tissue can lead to a chemical burn due to the poor quality of skin in diabetics. The damaged skin can quick degenerate into a wound, and bacteria also has an easier time penetrating this tissue to form an infection. Many a toe amputation has resulted from the seemingly simple use of a medicated corn pad.
For diabetics, the use of medicated corn pads should be avoided in all cases. Corns and calluses are potentially a prickly problem given the higher chance of skin wounds and infections with diabetes, and professional care from a podiatrist should be considered first and foremost when corns and calluses need treatment.