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Corns and Warts

To be handled with care

Corns may often disappear again by themselves if the cause being pressure and friction has been removed. Healing can be accelerated if the afflicted persons soak their feet in warm water to soften the surplus horny layer and carefully remove it.
Marta Campbell
24.07.2019  14:00 Uhr

Due to the risk of injuries, sharp tools such as knives or razor blades are taboo. In most cases, the treatment has to be repeated over several days. Another way of softening surplus callus is to apply urea, salicylic acid or lactic acid contained in corn plasters or corn tincture and to remove it after a footbath. Depending on the product, corn plasters are to be kept on the skin for two to four days. The softened callus is then carefully peeled off.

If the patient chooses a liquid corn remedy it is necessary before the application to cover the skin around the corn with some vaseline, zinc paste or a fatty ointment to avoid the skin being affected. Alternatively, the patient can brush the corn with a trichloroacetic acid gel for four days in a row. If the desired result is not achieved, a podiatrist or physician will have to cut out the corn. Because of the poor wound healing, it is essential for diabetics to contact podiatrists that are especially trained for diabetics or to go to a specialized diabetologic foot clinic.

Plantar warts are located on the foot soles and are a relatively frequent special form of the common warts. They differ from the common warts in that they are not ball shaped but flattened by the body weight. They grow inward. Plantar warts cause pain with every step as if stepping on thorns – hence the German name »Dornwarze«. Typically, one catches this viral infection in swimming pools, saunas, gyms or sports halls.

Warts need not necessarily be treated as they are benign. Often, they disappear again by themselves. If, however, they are causing pain, they should be removed.

Keratolytics will gradually dissolve warts. Plantar warts, however, take much longer to disappear than common warts as they go deep under the skin. As with salicylic acid, the patient needs to apply keratolytics again and again for several weeks. If a wart plaster is used, it is necessary to cut it to the exact size and to fix it properly so that only the afflicted skin gets the active agent. It can remain on the wart for several days. Keratolytic solutions should be applied two to four times a day.

Tinctures are often collodion-based preparations forming an invisible lacquer on the wart. Before re-applying the solution, the patient needs to remove this layer or carefully rub it off. Here too the surrounding skin needs to be protected. Using a file, the softened top layer of the callus is then cautiously removed, best after a lukewarm footbath. The keratolysis is a long process and takes six to twelve weeks. The patient should be informed of this so that he does not stop the treatment prematurely. To relief the pain it is recommended to use a ring-shaped padded patch around the wart which will cushion the pressure.

Deutsch/German Englisch/English Deutsch/German Englisch/English
Dornwarze plantar wart Fußbad footbath
Harnstoff urea Haut skin
Hornhaut callus Hühnerauge corn
Keil wedge Lack lacquer
Laser laser Milchsäure lactic acid
Pflaster plaster, patch Podologe podiatrist, podologist
Salicylsäure salicylic acid Sauna sauna
Tinktur tincture Turnhalle gym, sports hall
Vaseline vaseline Verätzen cauterize
Vereisen freeze Warze wart
Zinkpaste zinc paste, zinc oxide paste

Another possibility to remove warts is to cauterize the tissue without pain. This can be achieved by using silver nitrate or chloroacetic acid, which is applied using a special stick. After some time, the skin starts to come loose and can be carefully removed with lukewarm water. If one is not successful in removing the wart completely, the treatment can be repeated after an interval – again making sure the healthy skin is protected.

A third treatment option is to freeze the wart. Using a dimethylether-propane mixture or liquid nitrogen, very low temperatures below -50°C are produced which will destroy the wart tissue. After some time, the wart will come off by itself. There are some appropriate sprays available for self-treatment by adults. Dermatologists have devices which have a much stronger effect. This method is, however, not suitable for diabetics and people with a poor blood circulation.

For plantar warts, one-time freezing is mostly not sufficient as they do not respond to that treatment as well as other wart types. There should always be an interval of two weeks between the individual applications. If the methods mentioned above are not successful in the case of very persistent, deep-lying warts, the afflicted person should consult a dermatologist. He can remove the wart under local anaesthetic using for example a laser beam.


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