In this article, “Foot Corns And Calluses: Understanding, Prevention, Treatment,” you will gain a comprehensive understanding of foot corns and calluses, their causes, and how they can be prevented. Led by board-certified Dr. Lauren Dabakaroff, LMD Podiatry offers advanced foot and ankle care, providing surgical and non-surgical solutions for various conditions. From pediatric and diabetic care to Achilles Tendonitis and bunions, their state-of-the-art diagnostics and same-day appointments ensure that your foot health is their priority. By delving into the understanding, prevention, and treatment of foot corns and calluses, you will be equipped with the knowledge to take proactive steps towards maintaining healthy feet.

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What are Foot Corns and Calluses?


Foot corns and calluses are common skin conditions that develop on the feet due to repeated friction and pressure. They are thickened areas of skin that can be painful and uncomfortable. While corns and calluses share some similarities, they have distinct characteristics and require different approaches to treatment.


The primary cause of foot corns and calluses is excessive pressure or friction on the skin of the feet. This pressure can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, high heels, or repetitive actions such as walking or running. Certain foot deformities or abnormalities, such as hammer toes or bunions, can also contribute to the development of corns and calluses.


The symptoms of foot corns and calluses include thickened, hardened, or flaky skin on the feet. Corns are usually small, round, and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin. Calluses, on the other hand, are larger and more diffuse, with a thickened layer of skin that may be yellowish in color. Both corns and calluses can cause discomfort or pain, especially when pressure is applied to the affected area.

Understanding Foot Corns


Foot corns are formed as a result of repeated friction and pressure on specific areas of the feet. When the skin is exposed to constant rubbing or irritation, it responds by thickening and hardening to protect itself. Corns typically develop on the tops or sides of the toes, and they can be caused by tight shoes, abnormal foot anatomy, or certain foot movements.

Types of Corns

There are several types of foot corns, each with its own distinct characteristics. Hard corns are the most common type and usually develop on the tops or sides of the toes. Soft Corns, on the other hand, are typically found between the toes and have a white, rubbery texture. Seed corns are tiny, shallow corns that often occur in clusters on the bottom of the feet.

Difference between Corns and Calluses

While corns and calluses are similar in nature, there are some key differences between the two. Corns are generally smaller, more localized, and have a hard center. They are often painful when pressure is applied. Calluses, on the other hand, are larger and cover a larger surface area. They are usually painless but can cause discomfort due to their thickness.

Understanding Foot Calluses


Foot calluses form in response to repeated friction and pressure on the skin of the feet. The skin reacts to this constant irritation by thickening and developing a tough, protective layer. Calluses are usually found on the soles of the feet, particularly under the heels, balls of the feet, and along the sides. They are often caused by prolonged standing or walking, as well as poorly fitting shoes.

Types of Calluses

Similar to corns, there are different types of foot calluses. The most common type is the simple callus, which develops on areas of pressure or friction. There are also plantar calluses, which are specifically located on the soles of the feet. In some cases, calluses can become infected, resulting in painful and inflamed areas on the feet.

Difference between Corns and Calluses

The main difference between corns and calluses lies in their location and appearance. Corns tend to be smaller, more concentrated, and have a hard center, while calluses are larger, more diffuse and cover a wider area of the foot. Corns are often more painful due to the pressure on the hard center, whereas calluses are typically painless.

Preventing Foot Corns and Calluses

Proper Foot Hygiene

Maintaining proper foot hygiene is essential for preventing corns and calluses. Regularly washing and drying your feet can help keep them clean and free from bacteria. Additionally, moisturizing the skin can help prevent dryness and cracking, which can contribute to the formation of corns and calluses.

Wearing Proper Footwear

Wearing appropriate footwear is crucial in preventing foot corns and calluses. Shoes should fit properly and provide adequate support and cushioning. Avoid shoes that are too tight or have narrow toe boxes, as these can increase pressure on the feet. Opt for shoes with a wider toe area and cushioned soles to distribute pressure evenly.

Using Protective Pads or Inserts

Using protective pads or inserts can help reduce friction and pressure on the feet, thus preventing the formation of corns and calluses. Pads can be placed over areas prone to corns or calluses, providing a cushioned barrier between the skin and footwear. Inserts, such as arch supports or gel cushions, can also help distribute pressure more evenly across the feet.

Treating Foot Corns and Calluses at Home

Soaking the Feet

Soaking the feet in warm water can help soften the skin and make it easier to remove corns and calluses. Add Epsom salt or a mild soap to the water for additional soothing and cleansing benefits. Soak the feet for 10-15 minutes, then gently rub the affected areas with a pumice stone or foot file to remove the thickened skin.

Using Exfoliating Agents

Exfoliating agents, such as creams or scrubs designed specifically for the feet, can help remove dead skin cells and smooth rough areas. These products often contain ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid, which can help dissolve and loosen the thickened skin. Follow the instructions on the product and apply it to the affected areas regularly for best results.

Using Moisturizers

Moisturizing the feet is essential to prevent dryness and cracking, which can worsen the condition of corns and calluses. Use a thick, emollient moisturizer or foot cream and apply it to the feet daily, paying extra attention to areas prone to corns and calluses. Regular moisturizing can help keep the skin soft and supple, reducing the risk of friction and pressure-related issues.

Wearing Cushioning Pads

Cushioning pads can provide relief and protection for existing corns and calluses. These pads usually have a soft, gel-like texture and can be applied directly to the affected areas. They help reduce friction and pressure on the skin, allowing the corns and calluses to heal more effectively. Make sure to replace the pads regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

Severe Pain or Discomfort

If your foot corns or calluses are causing severe pain or discomfort, it is recommended to seek medical treatment. A healthcare professional can evaluate the condition and provide appropriate interventions, such as debridement or prescription medications, to alleviate the symptoms.

Infection or Ulceration

If a corn or callus becomes infected or develops an ulcer, medical attention is necessary. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, warmth, and discharge. Ulceration refers to the formation of an open sore. These complications should be promptly evaluated and treated by a healthcare professional to prevent further complications.

Diabetic Foot Complications

Individuals with diabetes may be at higher risk for foot complications, including diabetic foot ulcers. If you have diabetes and notice the presence of corns or calluses on your feet, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide specialized advice and treatment options to ensure proper foot care and prevent potential complications.

Professional Treatment Options

Debridement or Trimming

A healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, can perform debridement or trimming to remove thickened skin and reduce the size of corns and calluses. This procedure involves gently shaving off the hardened skin using a sterile instrument. It is important to have this done by a professional to avoid injuring the healthy skin.

Prescription Medications

In some cases, prescription medications may be recommended to treat foot corns and calluses. These medications may include topical creams or ointments that contain ingredients to soften and dissolve the thickened skin. They are typically prescribed for more severe cases or when over-the-counter treatments have been ineffective.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics, such as shoe inserts or padding, can help redistribute pressure on the feet and alleviate corns and calluses. A podiatrist can assess your foot anatomy and gait pattern to determine the most appropriate type of orthotics for your specific needs. These custom devices can provide long-term relief and prevent the recurrence of corns and calluses.

Surgical Treatment for Foot Corns and Calluses

When Surgery is Necessary

Surgical treatment may be necessary in cases where conservative measures have failed to provide relief from foot corns and calluses. Surgery may also be considered if there are underlying foot deformities or abnormalities contributing to the development of corns and calluses. The decision to undergo surgery should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.

Types of Surgical Procedures

There are various surgical procedures available for the removal of foot corns and calluses. These include partial or complete removal of the corn or callus, as well as correction of any underlying foot deformities. The specific procedure will depend on the individual’s condition and the underlying cause of the corns and calluses.

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Managing Foot Corns and Calluses in Special Populations

Corns and Calluses in Diabetic Patients

Diabetic patients require special attention when it comes to managing foot corns and calluses. Due to impaired blood flow and nerve damage associated with diabetes, foot complications can be more severe in this population. Diabetic individuals should consult with their healthcare provider for proper foot care recommendations and regular foot examinations.

Corns and Calluses in Older Adults

Older adults may be more prone to foot corns and calluses due to changes in foot padding and skin condition that occur with age. It is important for older adults to practice good foot hygiene, wear proper footwear, and seek medical attention if corns and calluses become painful or infected. Regular foot examinations by a healthcare professional can help identify and manage these conditions effectively.


Regular foot care is essential for preventing and managing foot corns and calluses. By practicing proper foot hygiene, wearing appropriate footwear, and using protective pads or inserts, you can reduce your risk of developing these uncomfortable conditions. If foot corns or calluses do occur, prompt treatment at home or with the help of a healthcare professional can alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications. Taking proactive measures and seeking professional advice when needed will ensure optimal foot health and wellbeing.

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