A bunion is painful swelling that affects your big toe. Bunions (also known as hallux valgus) force the big toe to bend toward the others, causing a lump of bone on the inside of the foot. Bunionettes do the same thing, but to the smallest toe, making a lump on the outside of the foot.
Bunions and bunionettes can make it painful to walk and wear shoes, but treatments are available.
A corn is a highly concentrated callus that occurs at a pressure point, such as the top of the toe or under a toe joint. Corns typically have a hard, waxy core, which bores down into the skin and presses on the underlying tissue and nerves, causing pain.
Corns are caused by pressure or friction on the toes, usually from ill-fitting shoes or high heels. Treatment usually includes changing to properly-fitting shoes and adding padding to alleviate pressure and friction from corns. Some patients find relief sloughing off dead skin with a pumice stone. However, people who have diabetes or atherosclerosis should never treat corns on their own at home because they are at increased risk for infection.
Hammertoes -- also known as claw toes, mallet toes, or curled toes -- are toes that are bent in such a way that they rub on shoes or each other, causing pain and irritation. Women suffer hammertoes more commonly than men because of their shoe choices. High heels are a common culprit that cause the foot to slide forward and squash the tips of the toes, which fold up into hammertoes. Bunions also can push on and cause the toes to bend into hammertoes.
The second toe is affected most often, but the pain and damage can extend beyond the toes. When the toe bones are forced back, they exert pressure against the center of the foot. The ball of the foot is affected, calluses may form, and muscular cramps can develop.
Hammertoe treatment may include changing or stretching your shoes to provide extra space for the toes, or adding padding to keep the toes from bending. Surgery is sometimes required to correct hammertoe.