A hammertoe is an arched toe, the result of an abnormal contraction or “buckling” that leaves the toe in a claw-like position. Once stiffened into position, hammertoes rub against shoes and cause painful corns and calluses.
A hammertoe usually stems from muscle imbalance, but it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Often, a foot with a bunion will also have a hammertoe, caused by the bunion pushing the big toe under a second toe that then becomes arched.
Those with rheumatoid arthritis, high arches, or a tendency to rotate their feet inward when walking are especially susceptible to hammertoes.
A corn is hard, thickened skin that can occur on the top, between or on the tip of the toes. A callus is similar, but is larger and usually occurs across the ball of the foot, on the heel, or on the outer side of the big toe. “Soft” corns are corns that absorb and hold moisture. They’re usually found between the smaller toes.
Corns and calluses are your skin’s way of protecting you. Hard layers of dead cells are produced when skin undergoes excessive pressure or friction. For example, where one toe rubs against the other a corn often forms. The thicker the corn or callus becomes, the morn pain and burning it may cause as it increases pressure on living tissue underneath..