Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Corns Anyone?

I was idly looking at silly photoshopped gross foods produced by sick kids with poor senses of humour and social skills to match, (as one does,) and the thought suddenly came to me - whatever happened to the prevalence of corns?  When I was a kid, there was a turf war on between manufacturers competing for the mighty dollars of people suffering this apparently crippling affliction.  Everyone's auntie and uncle and the family dog seemed to have "damn corns" back then.

Nowadays - nothing.  Dr Scholls is not flogging odd shaped plasters with ominous looking holes in them, there aren't any weirdly shaped plastic pegs and bits in the front of sock drawers, and no-one hobbles any more...

Not that I miss the departure of tylomas, not one bit.  I was just wondering what has led to this mass change.  Are our shoe fittings really so much better these days?  The majority of people I know still buy their shoes at a shoe store, not get them custom made and/or fitted at a cobbler's.  So in theory, there should still be thousands of pairs of ill-fitted shoes causing corns and calluses.

Have we perhaps developed materials that don't cause pressure sores?  New cuts that somehow magically avoid pressing on sensitive toe joints?  I know that I wear cushion socks a lot more these days, as they make shoes fit so much better - is it perhaps the prevalence of these?  But a quick look in stores provides me with the best hypothesis:

Most shoes now are made with synthetics, cloth, soft plastics.  The cut and shape of the shoes is far different from the clumsy efforts a cobbler or leatherworks shoe factory was able to form.  Socks are available in a variety of materials, but I'm betting almost every material is less stiff and scratchy than the clumsier wollen and cotton socks of yesteryear.  And pretty much no one darns socks any more, preferring to buy new ones more often.

And that last one is a deal clincher, when combined with the three others.  Not only do shoes fit better and eliminate a lot of pressure spots, not only is the material much softer than dried animal skins, and not only are the socks softer and more durable and cushioning.  But also, hole in socks developed in - pressure spots... Places where the leather pressed the sock tight between shoe and foot, and then of course we compounded that pressure by adding a course of thick darning thread at those spots...

Aside from the problems that synthetic shoe and sock materials cause in the way of tinea and foot odour, and the wasted resources of throwing out a "perfectly good pair of socks" (as my mother would have said) when they develop holes, slow gradual advances in technology and manufacturing have all but eliminated the humble corn.

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1 comment:

Wolfie! said...

Yes, Bunions and other nasties. I've heard terrible stories about nightmarish growths on arms and legs which caused unbelievable pain while looking like an alien with pus.

I asked about these things on our science mailing list and one person contacted me privately about a war with his aliens, they're still around.

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