A tearing 'tween your toes is probably a soft corn. A splash of black-dotted skin on your heel? I'd err toward a wart.
(Heel pain so bad you can't walk is probably plantar fasciitis)
If only it was always this simple!
After writing my general guide, I realized telling a seed corn vs plantar wart can be tricky.
Both are similar in size, sprout in the same place and can form in a cluster. Not to mention, the sole of your foot is difficult to get a good look at.
(Pro-tip: it's easier to take a magnified photo with your phone)
So how do you tell them apart? Well, with these few pointers, you'll be well on your way.
Warts vs Corns
Plantar Warts (Verrucas)
This is a general guide. It doesn't replace an actual assessment from a Podiatrist.
If you have a condition that impairs foot health, speak to a medical professional. It's better to have an annoying yet harmless corn or wart — than a hard-to-heal ulcer!
(And yes, it's possible to get seed corn/wart hybrids, a topic for another blog post!)
Seed Corn vs Plantar Wart: How To Tell The Difference
Before You Start...
You're going to want to take off any overlying hard skin callus. Enough to get a clearer view.
This makes it easier to tell a seed corn vs plantar wart.
(Use a good paddle file for this)
They allow for a more focused skin take down compared to emery boards or pumice stones.
Couch to Five Corns
I ask everybody I treat: what's your recent activity been like?
Have you started running...or swimming? Have you been on any vacations and worn strappy sandals? You know, the type that slide around and triggers seed corns.
You can see where I'm going with this.
Work back and work out what your recent activity has been. A change of season, shoes, sports.
Seed corns are easier to pinpoint back to something as they're caused by friction. Plantar warts creep up a few weeks after exposure to whatever caused them.
Satellite Warts And Clusters of Corns
Seed Corn Color, Plantar Wart Pigment
Seed corns have a golden hue, like sesames. This is because they're ingrown dry skin and often covered with rough callous (due to friction). Dry on dry skin.
Despite their small size, they're firm! You can feel the dry, picky callus and tough inner-core.
Plantar warts are usually an off-gray or cloudy color — think diluted pale paint. They get even whiter when exposed to water, sweat or acid like Bazuka.
Foot warts are squidgy compared to seed corns. There may an inner core of harder skin, but the whole thing will feel a lot less firm to touch.
Sometimes they appear yellow, gold or straw-colored, if so look really close for petechiae...
Petechiae - Small Dark Spots
This is your best positive plantar wart ID. Look for tiny black dots sitting right near the surface.
These are petechiae, tiny blood vessels. They're similar in size and look unusual compared to the grey/cloudy skin they're sat in.
They also bleed.
Bleeding, Squeezing And Pain
When filed, picked or pricked, warts don't need much encouragement to bleed. Now, this isn't cut-finger type flow, it spots, and doesn't come with pain.
While we're on discomfort, there's something called the "squeeze test" for plantar warts.
If you produce pain when you squeeze the spot - like a zit - it's a wart. Corns, meanwhile, hurt when you press direct in on them.
I use this as a loose guide though. What I pay attention to is how much discomfort you're in as seed corns a lot more than warts.
Curing Seed Corns
To cure a seed corn is straightforward:
You need to rasp away the dry skin on them (this allows foot cream to get in and rehydrate).
Then you moisturize the bejesus out of them with an urea-based foot cream.
(I use Gehwol Blue or Mint for this. it's cooling, slides into your skin like silk and smells divine)
Treating Plantar Warts
Plantar warts need more patience. Home cures can work, but take time.
Think months, not weeks.
Alternate periods of applying acid and covering with duct or zinc oxide tape.
You need to aggravate a plantar wart in different ways before they go.
In truth, not all plantar warts disappear with home treatments. Sometimes if you want it cured, you have to go to the pros.
Women (Have Worse Feet Than Men)
Yep, and it's all down to those ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).
Seed Corn vs Plantar Wart
So there you have it, seed corn vs plantar wart. I hope these pointers have put you on the right path.
Again, don't use this as a replacement for an expert's opinion. And please, please don't start poking and prodding with sharp objects!