Help! I have painful corns on both of my little toes that never seem to go away. They pinch every time I put on my pointe shoes. Is there anything I can do? —Farrah
Corns look similar to callouses, but are characterized by a hard, cone-shaped core that burrows into the skin and presses on superficial nerves. No wonder they hurt so much! They develop as a result of excessive friction and pressure, and are divided into two categories: soft, which occur between the toes and are more exasperated by moisture, and hard (the kind you’re experiencing), which develop on the tops and sides of toes.
Chronic, unrelenting corns are a sure-fire sign that your pointe shoes are too short, too narrow or too tapered, so make an appointment at your local dancewear store to get refitted. Try different sizes, box shapes and widths and examine the pressure points of each shoe. In the meantime, invest in some moleskin or foam/gel corn pads and start experimenting with ways to redistribute pressure. When I had a terrible corn on my big toe earlier this year, I placed strips of moleskin adjacent to it (not directly on top) to absorb the pressure of my shoe. If they’re not too irritated, gently file your corns down after a shower or bath, when the skin is softer. Avoid chemical corn removal liquids or pads—they can eat away at healthy skin and cause infections. If nothing seems to help, or if you suspect your corn is infected, make an appointment with a podiatrist.