Corn plasters good for feet!Feet photo for corn plaster article

Staff in DTS (Mike Bradburn and Stephen Walters), along with Professor Wesley Vernon and Dr Lisa Farndon, and Professor Simon Dixon (in HEDS) have recently been involved in the analysis and reporting of randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of salicylic acid plasters compared with usual scalpel debridement for the treatment of corns. Debridement is the medical removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

The RCT was funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme.

Farndon LJ, Vernon W, Walters SJ, Dixon S, Bradburn M, Concannon M & Potter J (2013) The effectiveness of salicylic acid plasters compared with 'usual' scalpel debridement of corns: a randomised controlled trial.  J Foot Ankle Res, 6(1), 40.

Corns are a common foot problem and many sufferers will seek treatment from a podiatrist. However there is little evidence to indicate which current treatments are able to give a long term resolution. This study compared ‘usual’ treatment of corns (debridement with a scalpel) with corn plasters (40% salicylic acid plasters) to investigate which is the most effective in terms of clinical, economic and patient centred outcomes in the short (3 months follow-up) and the and longer term (12 month follow-up period).

Two hundred and two patients with corns were randomised to receive scalpel debridement or corn plaster treatment (101 in each group). One hundred and eighty-nine patients had follow-up outcome data for statistical analysis. At 3 months post-randomisation, 34% (32/95) of participants had a resolved corn in the corn plaster group compared with 21% (20/94) in the scalpel group (Odds Ratio (OR) 2.00, 95% Confidence Interval: 1.02 to 3.93 P=0.044) in favour of the corn plaster group, indicating that the odds of a completely healed corn among participants allocated corn plasters was twice that of participants in the scalpel group at three months post-randomisation. Eighty-three per cent (79/95) of participants in the corn plaster group and 56% (53/94) in the scalpel group had a reduction in corn size at three months (OR= 4.42, 95% CI 2.17-8.97; p<0.001).

The research team concluded that 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 ‘usual’ scalpel treatment and that the intervention is cost effective. Used under supervision of a podiatrist on appropriate patients, corn plasters offer an effective alternative to scalpel debridement.