Kissing Corns on Foot

I didn't scream on the surgical bed this time. I knew how much it hurt from my first experience in 2004. I held my breath when the surgeon injected a local anesthetic into the kissing corn on my left foot Tuesday afternoon. It took less than 15 minutes to remove the tiny soft corn and sew up the lesion with two stitches. Dr. Tsai was pleased with his esthetic work and ordered a biopsy of my kissing corn!

I saw the nurse put the surgically removed corn in a bottle for formalin with my very own eyes. The hard part at the center of the corn resembles a barley hare, that is, a funnel with a broad raised top and a pointed bottom. Because of their shape, corns intensify the pressure at the tip and cause deep tissue damage and ulceration. Just imagine walking barefoot on a needles bed!

It was the second time I had the corn on foot. During the SARS period in Taiwan in 2004, I went to Italy to study the Italian language for three months. I developed a corn (chances are, a hard corn) on the outer part of the big toe of my left foot, because of my intensive traveling in Milan for one month, in Florence for one month, with my tight sneakers. When I was in Rome, I had to purchase a pair of sandals to walk. I was eager to come home.

The moment I arrived in Taipei, I went to the Cardinal Tien Hospital for a surgery immediately. The doctor warned me the consequence of the surgery, I couldn't wear high heeled shoes again. So he prescribed a bottle of salicylic acid for topical treatment. In the end, I went to Jen-ai Hospital to have the corn removed with liquid nitrogen. I don’t have any obvious inconvenient consequences. I wear 3 inch heeled shoes without any difficulties ever since.

My second encounter with corn on foot took place two months ago. The kissing corn formed between the fourth and fifth toes of my left foot. It's said to be the most common place for forming a corn (soft corn) on foot. Corns on foot are like cones pointing down into the foot's skin. They are mainly caused by excessive pressure and friction. Pressure and friction together stimulate the skin of the feet to thicken (in order to protect itself), but when the pressure and friction do not let up, the corns becomes very sore.

There are two kinds of corns on foot. Hard corns, also called heloma durums, are very common, as they result from wearing ill-fitting shoes and sometimes. Hard corns usually form on the tip of the toe and on the sides of the foot. Soft corns, also called heloma molles or kissing corns, frequently formed between adjacent toes. They stay moist, keeping the surrounding skin soft. The corn's center is however indurated. Soft corns can also stem from wearing high-heeled shoes that have narrowing toe boxes.

Both hard and soft corns find home on my left foot (how lucky I'm to get to know all about corns on foot). Maybe my left foot is bigger than my right foot. I am a left footed person. No matter if I play Hopscotchit, or I play soccer, my left foot works more dexterously than my right foot.

My landlady Gionnina in Rome wears special orthotics to help her redistribute and transfer pressure on the foot. Now I know why she needs good and expensive orthotic to take weight and pressure off the target areas of corns on foot.

The surgery of the second corn on foot was performed successfully by Dr. Tsai Chung-liang, the Superintendent of Chung-hsiang Hospital in Chung-ho. Why I have a surgery in Chung-ho in the first place? As a pharmacist of Taiwan Biotech Pharmacy-Chung-hsiang Branch in Chung-ho, I know most medical staff at the next door hospital.

Having the surgery at Chung-hsiang Hospital is like having a surgery at home. I was pampered by four staff members, including two assistant nurses, one chief nurse, and one surgeon. They took turns to cheer me up by telling stories and to chitchat with me during the operation.

After the operation, Dr. Tasi trimmed another piece of skin off my left sole carefully when he knew that I am a flamenco dancer. I felt extremely painful, but I didn't ask for the second local anesthetic. I knew I could recover better without another shot. But I did scream a little this time. Dr. Tsai did his best to make sure I can put on my flamenco shoes to perform at the Hero Culture Center in June this year.

Corns on foot are infected by Human Papilloma virus, HPV. As an expert on DNA virus (my research speciality is Herpes), I know HPV infections are recurrent. Now after the sole surgery by an A+ plastic physician, it is my turn to be an A+ patient. I need to avoid constant stimulation of the tissue producing the corns. I should try conservative footwear with extra toe space. No third encounter with the corn on foot ever!

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