In “Combatting Corns And Calluses: Your Comprehensive Guide,” you will find an extensive resource for addressing these common foot ailments. Led by the expertise and knowledge of board-certified Dr. Lauren Dabakaroff, LMD Podiatry is dedicated to providing advanced foot and ankle care. With a focus on surgical and non-surgical solutions, Dr. Dabakaroff offers state-of-the-art diagnostics and same-day appointments, ensuring that your foot health remains a priority. Whether you are dealing with pediatric foot issues, diabetic care, Achilles Tendonitis, or bunions, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to combat corns and calluses effectively.

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What are Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are common foot conditions characterized by thickened areas of skin. While they may seem similar, there are slight differences between the two.

Definition of corns and calluses

Corns, medically known as helomas, are small, concentrated areas of thickened skin that typically develop on the tops or sides of the toes. They are often round and can be either hard or soft. Hard corns have a dense core, while soft corns are flatter and usually occur between the toes.

Calluses, on the other hand, are larger, broad areas of thickened skin that usually form on the soles of the feet. They are typically yellowish or grayish in color and have a more diffuse appearance compared to corns.

Causes of corns and calluses

Both corns and calluses develop as a response to repeated friction or pressure on the skin. Some common causes include:

  1. Ill-fitting footwear: Shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have high heels can cause excessive pressure on certain areas of the feet, leading to the development of corns and calluses.
  2. Biomechanical abnormalities: Certain foot deformities, such as hammer toes or bunions, can cause uneven weight distribution, resulting in increased pressure on specific areas and the formation of corns or calluses.
  3. Walking or running barefoot: Walking or running on hard surfaces without protective footwear can cause friction and pressure, leading to the development of corns and calluses.
  4. Occupation or activities: People who engage in activities that involve repetitive movements or prolonged standing, such as athletes, dancers, or construction workers, are more prone to developing corns and calluses.

Difference between corns and calluses

While corns and calluses share many similarities, there are a few key differences to note. Corns are typically smaller and have a more defined shape and can be either hard or soft. In contrast, calluses are larger and have a more diffuse appearance. Corns tend to develop on non-weight bearing areas, such as the tops or sides of the toes, while calluses are commonly found on weight-bearing areas, like the soles of the feet. Additionally, corns can be more painful compared to calluses due to the increased pressure on a smaller area.

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Taking preventative measures can help reduce the risk of developing corns and calluses. Here are some tips:

Wearing comfortable shoes

Choose shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support and cushioning. Avoid shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have high heels, as they can increase pressure on the feet.

Using padding or insoles

Consider using cushioned pads or insoles to help redistribute pressure and reduce friction on certain areas of the feet. These can provide additional padding and support.

Avoiding tight footwear

Ensure that your shoes are not too tight, especially in the toe area. Tight shoes can compress the toes and increase the risk of developing corns and calluses.

Keeping feet clean and dry

Maintaining good foot hygiene is essential in preventing corns and calluses. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water, and make sure to thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes.

Home Remedies

If you do develop corns or calluses, there are several home remedies that can help manage the condition and promote healing.

Soaking in warm water

Soaking your feet in warm water for about 10-15 minutes can help soften the corns or calluses, making them easier to remove later. You can add Epsom salt or mild soap to the water for added benefits.

Using a pumice stone or file

After soaking, gently rub the affected areas with a pumice stone or file to remove the dead skin. Be careful not to rub too aggressively, as this can cause skin irritation or injury.

Applying moisturizer

After drying your feet, apply a moisturizer to keep the skin soft and supple. This can help prevent the formation of new corns and calluses.

Using over-the-counter treatments

There are various over-the-counter treatments available, such as corn pads or medicated creams, that can help soften and remove corns and calluses. Follow the instructions carefully and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.

Medical Treatments

If home remedies do not provide sufficient relief or you have severe or recurring corns and calluses, it is advisable to seek professional help from a podiatrist or foot specialist.

Seeking professional help

A podiatrist or foot specialist can assess the condition of your corns and calluses and provide appropriate treatment options. They may recommend further medical treatments or procedures if necessary.

Trimming or shaving

In some cases, a podiatrist may use a scalpel or specialized tools to carefully trim or shave the thickened skin of corns and calluses. This procedure should only be done by a trained professional to minimize the risk of injury or infection.

Prescription medications

Topical medications containing salicylic acid or urea may be prescribed to help soften the corns and calluses. These medications work by breaking down the thickened skin, making it easier to remove.


Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze the corns or calluses, causing them to gradually fall off. This treatment should be performed by a healthcare professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.


In rare cases where corns or calluses are particularly large or causing severe pain, surgical intervention may be necessary. This may involve removing the underlying bone or tissue responsible for the excessive pressure or friction.

corns and calluses

Dealing with Complications

While corns and calluses are generally harmless, they can sometimes lead to complications if left untreated or improperly managed. Here are some considerations:

Infection prevention

It is important to keep the affected areas clean and dry to prevent the risk of infection. If you notice signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pus, or increased pain, seek medical attention immediately.

Managing pain and discomfort

If you experience pain or discomfort from corns or calluses, over-the-counter pain relief medications or topical creams may offer temporary relief. However, addressing the underlying cause of the problem is crucial for long-term relief.

Addressing underlying foot conditions

If corns and calluses continue to develop despite proper care and treatment, it may indicate an underlying foot condition or biomechanical abnormality. Consulting a podiatrist can help identify and address these issues.

When to See a Specialist

While most corns and calluses can be managed at home, there are situations where it is advisable to seek professional help.

Persistent or recurring corns and calluses

If your corns or calluses do not improve or keep coming back despite home remedies and preventative measures, it may be time to consult a podiatrist for further evaluation and treatment.

Severe or worsening symptoms

If your corns or calluses cause severe pain, restrict your daily activities, or show signs of infection, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Delaying treatment may lead to complications.

Presence of bleeding, pus, or discharge

If your corns or calluses become inflamed, bleed, or show signs of infection such as pus or discharge, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.

Difficulty walking or performing daily activities

If your corns or calluses significantly impact your ability to walk or carry out your daily activities, it is advisable to consult a podiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Precautions and Safety Tips

When dealing with corns and calluses, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and avoid potential complications.

Avoiding self-treatment if you have diabetes

If you have diabetes or any other condition that affects circulation or nerve function in your feet, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment. Self-treatment may increase the risk of infection or other complications.

Properly sterilizing tools

If you choose to use tools like pumice stones or files to treat your corns and calluses at home, make sure to sterilize them properly before and after each use. This helps prevent the spread of bacteria or infection.

Not cutting or trimming too much at once

When removing dead skin from corns or calluses, it is important not to cut or trim too much at once. Removing too much skin can lead to pain, bleeding, or infection. Take it slow and be gentle.

Wearing appropriate shoes after treatment

Once you have treated your corns or calluses, it is essential to wear proper and comfortable footwear to prevent their recurrence. Choose shoes that fit well and provide sufficient support and cushioning.

Preventing Corns and Calluses in the Future

Taking proactive steps to prevent corns and calluses can minimize the risk of their development. Here are some tips:

Choosing well-fitting shoes

Invest in shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support. Consider getting your feet measured regularly, as shoe sizes can change over time.

Using protective pads or cushions

If you are prone to developing corns or calluses in certain areas, consider using protective pads or cushions to reduce friction and pressure on those areas.

Maintaining good foot hygiene

Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent the buildup of bacteria or moisture that can contribute to the development of corns and calluses. Wash your feet daily and thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes.

Regularly exfoliating and moisturizing

Exfoliating your feet regularly can help remove dead skin cells and prevent the buildup that leads to corns and calluses. Follow up with moisturizer to keep the skin soft and supple.

Lifestyle Changes for Foot Health

Incorporating certain lifestyle changes can promote overall foot health and reduce the risk of developing corns and calluses.

Foot exercises and stretches

Performing foot exercises and stretches can help strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility, reducing the strain on the feet and decreasing the likelihood of developing corns and calluses.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess weight can put added pressure on the feet, increasing the risk of corns and calluses. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet can alleviate this pressure.

Avoiding excessive pressure or friction

Take steps to minimize excessive pressure or friction on the feet. This can include wearing proper footwear, using protective padding, and avoiding activities that may subject the feet to prolonged or repetitive strain.


While corns and calluses can be bothersome, they are usually harmless and can often be managed effectively with home remedies or professional treatment. By taking appropriate preventive measures, promptly addressing complications, and incorporating foot-friendly habits into your lifestyle, you can maintain healthy and comfortable feet. If you have persistent or severe symptoms, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

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