If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort and annoyance of skin corns, you know how much they can disrupt your daily life. Thankfully, there are effective treatment solutions available that can help you bid farewell to these troublesome skin conditions. Led by board-certified Dr. Lauren Dabakaroff, LMD Podiatry specializes in advanced foot and ankle care, offering both surgical and non-surgical options for various conditions. With her extensive Mount Sinai training, Dr. Dabakaroff provides state-of-the-art diagnostics and same-day appointments in a friendly environment, prioritizing your foot health. Say goodbye to the discomfort and inconvenience of skin corns, and say hello to effective treatment solutions. Contact us today at 954-680-7133 to schedule your consultation.

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Understanding Skin Corns

Skin corns are small, thickened areas of skin that usually develop due to repeated friction or pressure on a specific area. They typically appear as round or oval-shaped, and can vary in color from yellow to gray. Skin corns often form on the feet, particularly on the tops or sides of the toes and the soles of the feet. In some cases, they may also develop between the toes.

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Causes of Skin Corns

Skin corns are primarily caused by pressure and friction on the skin. Some of the common causes of skin corns include wearing ill-fitting shoes, especially those that are too tight or too loose. High-heeled shoes and shoes with narrow toe boxes can also contribute to the development of skin corns. Other factors that can cause corns include foot deformities, such as hammertoes or bunions, as well as abnormalities in gait or walking style.

Types of Skin Corns

There are two main types of skin corns: hard corns (helomas) and Soft Corns (heloma molles). Hard corns are the most common type and typically develop on the tops of the toes or on the soles of the feet. They are characterized by a hard, thickened center that is surrounded by a ring of inflamed skin. Soft corns, on the other hand, usually occur between the toes and are softer and more moist in texture. They are often white in color and can cause discomfort and pain.

Identifying Skin Corns

Symptoms of Skin Corns

The main symptom of skin corns is the presence of a thickened, raised area of skin. Other symptoms may include tenderness, pain, and inflammation in the affected area. Skin corns can also cause the skin to become dry and flaky. In some cases, the pressure and friction caused by corns may lead to the formation of blisters or ulcers.

Differences between Corns and Calluses

It is important to differentiate between corns and calluses, as they are often confused due to their similar appearance. While corns are usually smaller and have a central core, calluses are larger and tend to develop on weight-bearing areas of the feet, such as the heels or balls. Calluses generally have a more even thickness and do not have a central core. However, both corns and calluses can be uncomfortable and may require treatment.

Common Areas for Skin Corns

Skin corns can develop on various areas of the feet, but they are most commonly found on the tops or sides of the toes and the soles of the feet. The presence of foot deformities, such as hammertoes or bunions, can increase the likelihood of corn development. Additionally, activities that involve repetitive friction or pressure on the feet, such as running or wearing tight shoes, can also contribute to the formation of corns.

Preventing Skin Corns

Wearing Comfortable Shoes

One of the most effective ways to prevent skin corns is to wear properly-fitting shoes that provide ample support and cushioning. It is important to choose shoes that allow for adequate toe room and do not squeeze or constrict the feet. Opting for shoes with low heels and wide toe boxes can help alleviate pressure and reduce the risk of corn formation.

Using Protective Padding

Using protective padding can help minimize friction and pressure on the feet, thereby reducing the risk of skin corns. Various types of protective padding are available, including gel pads, moleskin, and toe separators. These can be placed on areas prone to corn development to provide an additional layer of cushioning and support.

Moisturizing Your Feet

Keeping the skin on your feet well-moisturized can help prevent the formation of skin corns. Dry, cracked skin is more susceptible to friction and pressure, which can lead to the development of corns. Regularly moisturizing your feet with a gentle, moisturizing cream or lotion can help keep the skin soft and supple, reducing the risk of corn formation.

At-Home Treatment Options

Soaking and Exfoliating

Soaking your feet in warm water can help soften the skin and make it easier to exfoliate. Adding Epsom salt or a mild foot soak can further enhance the softening effect. After soaking, gently exfoliate the affected area using a pumice stone or a foot file. This helps remove the dead skin and reduce the thickness of the corn.

Applying Over-the-Counter Creams or Ointments

There are various over-the-counter creams and ointments available that can help soften and dissolve the corn. These products typically contain ingredients like salicylic acid or urea, which help break down the thickened skin. Follow the instructions on the packaging carefully and apply the product to the corn as directed.

Using Corn Pads or Cushions

Corn pads or cushions can provide temporary relief and protection to the affected area. These adhesive pads are typically made of foam or gel and are designed to cushion the corn and reduce friction. They can be placed over the corn to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by pressure or friction.

Professional Treatment Solutions

Consulting a Podiatrist

If at-home treatments do not provide satisfactory results, it is recommended to consult a podiatrist for professional treatment. A podiatrist will assess the severity of the corn and may recommend more advanced treatment options. They may also provide advice on proper footwear and foot care to prevent further corn formation.

Prescription Medications for Severe Cases

In some cases, a podiatrist may prescribe medications to treat severe or persistent corns. These medications may include topical creams or ointments that contain higher concentrations of active ingredients, such as keratolytics or corticosteroids. These medications aim to break down the thickened skin and reduce inflammation.

Surgical Removal of Corns

Surgical removal of corns is typically reserved for severe cases that do not respond to other treatment methods. During the procedure, the podiatrist will carefully remove the corn using sterile instruments. This is usually done under local anesthesia, and the recovery period is relatively short. After the procedure, proper foot care and preventive measures are essential to avoid further corn formation.

Natural Remedies for Skin Corns

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy that has been used for various skin conditions, including skin corns. Soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and applying it to the corn can help soften the skin and reduce the thickness. Leave it on for a few minutes before gently exfoliating the area. Repeat this process regularly until the corn disappears.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is known for its moisturizing and nourishing properties. Applying a few drops of castor oil to the corn and covering it with a bandage can help soften the skin and promote healing. Leave it on overnight and rinse the area in the morning. Repeat this process daily until the corn improves.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with skin corns. Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it to the corn. Cover it with a bandage and leave it on for a few hours or overnight. Repeat this process daily until the corn resolves.

Precautions and Considerations

Avoid Cutting or Scraping Corns

It is important to avoid cutting or scraping corns at home, as this can lead to infection and further complications. DIY corn removal techniques, such as using sharp objects or acids, can cause damage to the surrounding healthy skin and increase the risk of infection. It is best to seek professional assistance for safe and effective corn removal.

Seek Medical Attention if Corns Become Painful

If corns become painful or show signs of infection, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Signs of infection include increased pain, redness, warmth, pus, or a foul odor. A podiatrist or healthcare professional can assess the condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Proper Foot Hygiene

Maintaining proper foot hygiene is essential for preventing and treating skin corns. This includes regularly washing and drying your feet, especially between the toes. It is also important to change socks and shoes regularly to keep the feet clean and dry. Keeping toenails trimmed and maintaining good overall foot health can also help prevent corn formation.

When to See a Podiatrist

Persistent or Recurring Corns

If corns persist or recur despite at-home treatment efforts, it is advisable to seek the expertise of a podiatrist. A podiatrist can assess the underlying cause of the corns and provide appropriate treatment options to prevent recurrence.

Difficulty Walking or Wearing Shoes

If corns cause significant discomfort, pain, or difficulty walking or wearing shoes, a podiatrist can help alleviate the symptoms and provide solutions to improve foot function. They can recommend orthotics, padding, or other interventions to minimize pressure and friction on the corns.

Diabetes or Circulation Issues

Individuals with diabetes or circulation issues should consult a podiatrist for the treatment of corns. These conditions can impair the body’s ability to heal and increase the risk of complications. A podiatrist can provide specialized care and ensure proper management of corns in such cases.

FAQs about Skin Corns

Can Corns Go Away on Their Own?

In some cases, if the cause of the corn is eliminated, it may go away on its own. For example, if the corn is caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes and the shoes are replaced with properly-fitting ones, the corn may eventually resolve. However, it is important to note that corns are often persistent and may require treatment to fully resolve.

Are Corns Contagious?

No, corns are not contagious. They are a result of pressure and friction on the skin and are not caused by bacteria or viruses. However, it is still important to practice good foot hygiene to prevent infection and promote overall foot health.

Can Wearing High Heels Cause Corns?

Yes, wearing high heels can increase the risk of corn formation. High heels can cause excess pressure on certain areas of the feet, especially the toes and the balls of the feet. This can lead to the development of corns over time. It is advisable to wear high heels in moderation and choose styles that provide adequate support and cushioning to minimize the risk of corns.


Skin corns can be a painful and bothersome condition, but with proper understanding, identification, and preventive measures, they can be effectively managed. By wearing comfortable shoes, using protective padding, and moisturizing the feet, you can minimize the risk of developing corns. At-home treatment options such as soaking and exfoliating, applying over-the-counter creams, and using corn pads can help alleviate symptoms. For more severe cases, consulting a podiatrist and exploring professional treatment solutions may be necessary. Additionally, natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, castor oil, and tea tree oil can provide alternative options for corn treatment. Remember to take precautions, seek medical attention when needed, and consult a professional for persistent or recurring corns. By following these guidelines and seeking appropriate care, you can say goodbye to skin corns and prioritize your foot health.

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