Corns and Calluses 

What are they?

Corns and calluses are lesions that form when the skin tries to protect an underlying area from injury, pressure, or rubbing. The lesions are more common among people who wear ill-fitting shoes, have sweaty feet, or stand for long periods each day.

  • wearing shoes that are too tight, too loose, or too high-heeled
  • having a badly placed seam in a shoe
  • wearing socks that do not fit well
  • not wearing socks
  • walking barefoot regularly, as the skin will thicken to protect itself
  • using hand tools, sports equipment, or musical instruments without gloves
  • cycling frequently
  • kneeling or resting elbows on a table repeatedly

What’s the difference: Corn vs Callus

People sometimes use the terms “corns” and “calluses” interchangeably, but these are not the same.

Callus: is a section of skin that thickens and becomes yellow or pale in color because of friction, pressure, or irritation.They feel lumpy/bumpy to the touch can occur in larger surfaces of the skin and are not well defined. They often happen on the feet but can also occur on the hands, elbows, or knees, especially if you have spent years wearing heels or other non supportive shoes. They usually do not cause much discomfort, although callus on the foot may become painful when a person puts pressure on it while walking in shoes.

Corn: is a kind of callus made of dead skin, corns are very common on feet because these are smooth and hairless surfaces. The corns are usually small and circular, with a clearly defined center that can be hard or soft.

Hard corns tend to be small. They occur in areas of firm, hard skin, where the skin has thickened along bony areas of the foot. Some corns may also contain central seeds that can also form in the soles of the foot in clusters.

Signs & Symptoms:

Corns and calluses can make a person feel as if they are walking on stones. If a corn or callus becomes very painful, leaks fluid, feels warm, or looks red, a person should seek help from their Podiatrist. These may be signs that the area is infected. People with poor circulation, fragile skin, or nerve problems and numbness in the feet should be particularly watchful and seek medical advice before treating corns and calluses at home on their own.


Treatment depends on your symptoms and what caused the corn or callus. For the typical corn or callus, removing the buildup of skin is an effective treatment. Follow these steps:

  1. Soak the area with the corn or callus in warm water until the skin softens, usually 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Wet a pumice stone or emery board.
  3. While the skin on your foot is still soft and wet, gently move the pumice stone or emery board across the corn or callus to remove dead tissue. Do not remove too much skin. This could lead to bleeding and an infection.
  4. Apply a moisturizing cream or lotion to the corn or callus and surrounding dead skin every day. Look for products that contain urea, salicylic acid, or ammonium lactate. These ingredients will soften the skin over time.

Surgery for Corns and Calluses: may be considered if you have a structural deformity in your foot or toes that results in the repeated development of corns or calluses. In this case, your Podiatrist may need to remove or realign bone tissue. Other reasons for surgery are if the corns or calluses are extremely painful or if they prevent you from walking comfortably or normally.

Dr. Anubha Oberoi, DPM

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