How do you tell the difference between a Verrucca and a Corn?

A verruca is a caused by a virus and a corn is a lump of hard skin caused by stress on the tissues.  They sound pretty different, so they should look different, right?

Usually, it is easy.  Verrucae often form a perfect ring shape, or mosaic of rings, on the sole of the foot and they sometimes have the little black dots that everyone knows about.  If the patient is a child, it is more likely to be a verruca, if they are older, it in more likely to be a corn.  If it doesn’t hurt it is more likely to be a verucca, if it does, it is more likely to be a corn.

Like many medical things, even such an easy- sounding thing is not sounding such an exact science!

When I look at the lump, I am looking for a change in the finger print pattern and loops of capillaries.  I also look if it bleeds easily and how the callus forms.  There is also a way of pressing it that helps me to tell me if I am seeing a verruca or a corn.

Sometimes, despite looking at the two for too many years, I still get it wrong.  I am more likely to mistake a verucca for a corn than the other way round.  I am more likely to make a mistake with a painful young verucca that has not yet formed the ring and capillary structure, or if the area is covered by a big plaque of callus and the skin structure is altered by that.

Usually in these cases, a good clue is if a patient ends up back at the clinic because the pain is back too quickly.  Veruccae replace their callus more quickly than corns.   On this visit, the finger-print and capillary patterns are often easier to see.

(Oh, and just in case you are worried, neither veruccae nor corns are fatal !!!!)

About Joanne Ashton

I qualified in 1990 in Southampton and worked for the NHS for 10 yrs, most latterly specialising in Sports Injuries and Biomechanics, in what was then Riverside NHS trust serving Hammersmith, Fulham and Cheslea. A number of stints in hospital specialist Diabetic clinics throughout, gave me insight into that aspect of the Podiatry spectrum. Sport and Footworks was founded in 2003 as a good place for general Chiropody problems and Sports Podiatry. Because there have always been many diabetic, rheumatoid and other high risk patients attending this clinic, it has become much more of a rounded practice than originally envisaged, and I a more rounded practitioner. In addition I have qualified in Sports Massage, largely because I wanted more insight into the muscle function of the pelvis and back. I have continued it because I enjoy it and it works!
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