Corns and Calluses

Image showing bottom of foot

Do I have Corns or Calluses?

Corns and calluses are actually the same thing: thick, hard spots of dead skin caused by rubbing and pressure. Take a closer look at your feet to see if you have a corn or callus.

A Corns are on the tops of toes and other bony areas of the foot. You can see them by looking straight down at your feet.

B Calluses are on the side or bottom of your toes or soles. You have to pick up your foot or lean over to see them.

WHAT CAUSES CORNS AND CALLUSES?

Woman putting on high heels

By far, the experts at FootSmart and The Podiatry Institute agree that the main culprit is shoes that don’t fit properly. Corns and calluses are your body’s protection from a process called hyperkeratosis (constant rubbing or pressure).

Women who wear high heels and uncomfortable shoes in the name of fashion are common corn and callus sufferers. But corns and calluses may also appear if you have certain deforming foot conditions that affect how you walk, such as hammertoes or bunions. Even with supportive shoes, these bone deformities may chafe against your toes and form calluses.

While corns and calluses are not generally dangerous to your health, they can be painful and rather unsightly.

CORNS OR CALLUSES CAN BE AGGRAVATED BY...

  • Prolonged standing
  • Shoes with narrow toe boxes, especially high heels and dress shoes
  • Toe friction inside shoes or socks, often from excess moisture
  • Pressure from wearing high-heeled shoes
  • Obesity
  • Flat feet
  • High arches
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE CORNS OR CALLUSES?TAKE THIS SELF-ASSESSMENT
Self- Assessment
Quiz
Do I have:
  • An area of excess skin on the ball of my foot, heel or toe?
  • An area on my foot that feels hard or rough to the touch?
  • Bumps or areas of skin on my foot that seem higher than surrounding smooth skin?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely have corns or calluses. Keep reading for recommendations on treatment and relief from the experts at FootSmart and The Podiatry Institute.

ARE THERE ANY SERIOUS CONCERNS WITH CORNS OR CALLUSES?
Corn on top of toe

For most people, no. But if you have diabetes, open sores called ulcerations can develop from corns and calluses. Ulcerations can progress quickly to infection, abscess or even a life- or limb-threatening emergency. If you are diabetic, check your feet daily and discuss any open sores with your doctor.

HOW DO I TREAT AND PREVENT CORNS AND CALLUSES?

First and foremost, wear shoes that fit properly. Beyond that, the following recommendations from FootSmart and The Podiatry Institute should help you find relief.

Dress shoe to prevent corns or calluses
WEAR SHOES WITH:
  1. An overall good fit, with no rubbing or pressure points
  2. Good cushioning for the sole
  3. Wide toe boxes

Find these features, Shop Shoes >

  • Stop wearing shoes that irritate your feet or toes. Try shoe stretchers or toe protectors with any uncomfortable shoes you are unwilling to give up.
  • Limit the time you wear high heels or dress shoes.
  • Use cushions and pads to reduce rubbing and pressure points.
  • Apply softening creams. Use twice a day for stubborn corns or calluses.
  • Use files or pumice stones to soften and smooth down corns and calluses. Because corns and calluses are formed from chronic friction, this may not help in all cases.
  • Wear comfortable socks to reduce friction.

These treatments should bring relief in a matter of weeks. If they don’t, you may want to consult a podiatrist.

ARE THERE ANY TREATMENTS I SHOULD AVOID?
Shaving off caluses on side of heel

Never try to cut out, shave or scrape off corns or calluses with a razor or scissors. You could hurt yourself or increase your risk of infection. Many mechanical debriders sold as corn and callous solutions present the same risks.

Also, avoid chemical patches and solutions. They come with the possibility of side effects or complications, especially from overuse.