Podiatry trial shows benefits of alternative treatment for corns

A trial carried out in Sheffield has shown that the use of corn plasters can have significant clinical benefits when compared with the standard scalpel treatment for corns.

The Corn Plaster Evaluation (COPE) trial, run by the Sheffield Podiatry Service of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in conjunction with the University of Sheffield Clinical Trials and Research Unit, included 202 patients with corns recruited from sites in Sheffield and Huddersfield. The participants were randomized to receive either the scalpel treatment or corn plasters.

The randomised control trial, funded by an NIHR Research for Benefit grant, was led by Professor Wesley Vernon, Head of the Sheffield Podiatry Service (pictured), and Brenda King, Tissue Viability Nurse Specialist, and was managed by Dr Lisa Farndon, Podiatric Development Facilitator.

Corns are areas of hard, thickened skin that develop when the skin is exposed to excessive pressure or friction. They commonly occur on the feet and can cause pain and discomfort when walking.

The results of the trial showed that corn plasters are safe and cost effective when used on appropriate patients and under supervision by a podiatrist. Corn plasters were associated with a higher proportion of healed corns, a prolonged time to recurrence, less pain and reduced corn size over the first 6 months in comparison with scalpel treatment.

Long term benefits indicated that those who had corn plasters were 60% less likely to have recurrence of a corn at 12 months. There was also some evidence of an increase in quality of life indicators (QUALYs), as well as evidence that the treatment is cost effective.

Professor Wesley Vernon said: “This was an important trial as corns can have a real impact on people’s lives, making it difficult to walk and keep active.

“Our results show that corn plasters have significant benefits over the scalpel treatment, and we hope that other podiatry services will adopt them as standard practice.”

Patients attending the Sheffield Podiatry Service who meet the right criteria will now be offered corn plaster treatment.