Have you noticed at the side of your pinky toe what appears to be a second toenail? Looks weird, doesn't it??? Maybe you've tried to pick it off, and then lo and behold, it returned. 

So what is this excess nail on your toe? It's actually not a nail, it's a corn. It's called a Lister's corn, named after Dr. Joseph Lister, a 19th century doctor who fought for clean conditions in operating rooms. And yes, he got a corn named after him. 

If you'll recall, a corn occurs when there is an excess amount of pressure or friction, usually from shoes, on an area of the foot or toes. The foot will try to compensate for this friction by creating an extra layer of skin to protect itself. That works out OK for a while, and then more.... and more... and more... and MORE skin becomes a bump on your foot. Now we have a problem of a different sort. 

Corns are not a serious foot ailment, but can be unsightly and painful at times. When you're putting on your favorite shoes your corn will make you do a little yelp. Corns can become infected from rubbing from shoes. 

A Lister's corn typically forms on the inside or outside of your pinky toe. This hard corn is different from traditional corns because it can form with or without shoe pressure. They develop because of pressure on the toe and the toe itself. Those with Lister's corns usually have small toes that roll outward, and the corn forms because of the constant rubbing against the ground.

So how do you know how have a Lister's corn? If you have a hard, thick, bump on the outside or inside of your toe, or what looks like an oddly shaped toenail, it's likely a Lister's corn.

To prevent Lister's corns from recurring, wear shoes that have a wide toe box that will let your toe lie flat. You can cover the corn with a pad as well to relieve some of the friction that is occurring.

For those who have Lister's corns that just won't go away, your podiatrist may do one of two procedures to relieve the pressure. When the corn is on the inside of the toe, they will do a condylectomy, where they file away part of the bone that's rubbing against the ground. Patients are typically back on their feet within a few days of this procedure. If the Lister's corn is on the outside of the toe, podiatrists will do a terminal Symes procedure, where they will remove the small bone at the top of the toe. Patients usually recover within a few weeks.

If you believe have a foot problem and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.

Connecticut Foot Care Centers

Podiatrists in CT

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