Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are thickenings of the skin on the feet that can become painful. These are caused by excessive pressure or friction (rubbing) on the skin. The common cause is poor fitting shoes. A podiatrist can trim (cut) corns and calluses and can advise on the footwear, shoe soles and padded to prevent recurrences.

On this page

  • What are corns?
  • What causes corns and calluses?
  • What are the treatments for corns and calluses?
  • More help and information
  • References


A corn is a small area of skin becomes thicker due to the pressure thereon. A callus is more or less round shape. Corns press into the deeper layers of the skin and can be painful.

  • Hard callus commonly occur at the top of the smaller fingers or on the outer side of the little toe. These are areas where poorly fitting shoes tend to rub more.
  • Soft corns sometimes form between the toes, most often between the fourth and fifth fingers. These are softer because the sweat between the toes keeps them moist. Soft corns can sometimes become infected.


A callus is larger, wider and has a less defined edge than a corn. These tend to form in the bottom of the foot (the sole). Commonly form on the bone surface just below the toes. This area has most of its weight when walking. They are usually painless but can become painful.

The small bones of the fingers and toes are broader and more lumps near the small joints of the fingers. If there is an extra rubbing (friction), or pressure on the skin over a small area of about bone, this will cause the skin to thicken. This can lead to the formation of corns and calluses.

Common causes of friction and pressure are tight fitting shoes or poor, who tend to cause calluses on the top of the toes and on the side of the little toe. Also, too much walking or running, they tend to cause calluses on the soles of the feet. Corns and calluses are more likely to develop if you have very prominent bony fingers, thin skin, or deformities of the toes or feet that make the skin more easily rubbed into shoes.

If you develop a painful corn or callus is best to get expert advice from a podiatrist (foot doctor once called). You should not cut corns yourself, especially if you are elderly or have diabetes. Advice and treatments are considered are:

Peel and cut

The thickening of the skin of a callus can be reduced (clipped) by a podiatrist using a scalpel blade. The pain is usually much smaller than the corn is cut and relieves pressure on the underlying tissues. Sometimes Repeated or regular trimming sessions are necessary. Once the corn is cut down, it can not return if you use good footwear.

If skin thickening appears again, a recurrence can be prevented by rubbing by thickening of the skin with a pumice stone or sandpaper once a week. Some people can do for themselves. It is best to soak the feet in warm water for 20 minutes to soften thick skin before using a pumice stone or sandpaper. A moisturizer is used regularly in a cut corn or callus will keep the skin softened and easier to sand.

Note: Do not use a chemical (sometimes included in "patches" of corn) to "burn" the thickened skin unless under the supervision of a podiatrist. The chemicals can damage the surrounding skin and may cause skin ulcer. In particular, the chemicals should not be used if you have diabetes or poor circulation.

Shoes and Footwear

Tight fitting shoes or poor are believed to be the main cause of most of corns and calluses. Sometimes a rough seam or stitching on a shoe can rub sufficient to cause corn. The goal is to wear shoes that reduce pressure and rubbing of the toes and the front legs. Shoes should have plenty of room for the toes, have soft tops and low heels. Furthermore, the extra width needed if the callus developing on the outer side of the little toe. Additional height required if calli develop on the top of abnormal toes such as "hammer" or "claw fingers.

Correcting poor footwear reduce any rubbing or friction on the skin. In many cases, the callus or callus if rubbing or pressure will stop with improved footwear. If you have had a corn or callus distance comparison, repetition often be prevented with the use of a good shoe. If possible, do not go barefoot when outdoors will also help.

Some people with abnormalities of the feet or toes specialized shoes are needed to prevent rubbing. A podiatrist can advise on.

Socks and toe protection

Depending on the site of a template of a corn, cushioning pad or shoe can be beneficial. For example, for a callus under the foot, a soft shoe inlay can soften the skin and help heal the callus. If a corn between the toes, a special sleeve worn around the toe can relieve pressure. A toe splint special can also help keep your feet apart to allow the grain between fingers to heal. A podiatrist will be able to advise you on any suitable filler, templates or devices you need.


If you have a foot or toe abnormality that causes recurring problems, surgery may be advised if all else fails. For example, an operation may be necessary to straighten a deformed finger, or cutting a part of a bone protruding from a toe and is causing problems. If you need an operation and then refer you to a surgeon who will be able to discuss this with you in more detail.

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists Web:
Their website provides information on foot care and has a "Find a Podiatrist" section.

For pictures of corns and calluses see: Web: / scales / corns.html and Corns /