Are you irritated by something you can feel and see on the skin between your fourth and fifth toes? If so, you may believe you have athlete’s foot. While that’s quite often the case, there’s also another possibility: you may have developed a soft corn.

What is athlete’s foot?

This is an infection which is caused by a fungus. It appears when the bacteria that usually live harmlessly on your feet grow out of control and infect your skin. This can cause cracked skin, which can be quite painful. Always check with your podiatrist if you’re unsure.

  • The area between your toes will usually feel itchy, and you may also see redness in this area.
  • The skin around the infection will be dry and scaly, which is not the case with a soft corn.
  • Severe cases, where there is badly cracked skin, increase your risk of suffering other foot infections.

What is a soft corn?

This is a type of corn which is more common between your smallest toes than anywhere else on your foot. It’s caused when a bone spur is irritated by your shoes rubbing against it. This can be very painful, and so soft corns sometimes need to be removed surgically.

  • Soft corns result in mushy, white skin forming over them. This is because your foot’s moisture prevents hard calluses forming.
  • They are quite prone to infection. This means that they require special care; general corn treatments won’t work.
  • The pain can often be reduced by using a foam pad between your fourth and fifth toes. Soft cotton can also be used.

Most cases of athlete’s foot are not very serious, and can be well treated with over-the-counter medication. This is not always the case with soft corns, which don’t usually go away on their own. A podiatrist will be able to tell you for sure which condition you have and how it can be treated.