All About the Common Callus and Corn

shutterstock_113610118shutterstock_93910513I can’t tell you how many patients come in to the clinic because of a callus or corn that’s bothering them – too many to count!  Corns and calluses can cause significant pain, especially when they’re on the feet because we often get them in areas over pressure areas.  When they get thickened they can re-distribute your weight onto other areas of your feet and that may lead to foot instability or worsening pain.

Calluses are usually on the hands and feet and basically just thickened areas of skin that form when something rubs or presses on these areas over prolonged periods of time.

Corns are thickened areas of skin that are often on the soles of the feet or sides of the toes and look like a small nodule that has a hard center.  Corns are usually more painful because they are often over a smaller area and press harder on a more specific area of the foot.

Causes:  Possible reasons that calluses or corns develop include:

1)   Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly for your feet – either too loose or too tight

2)   Walking barefoot

3)   Wearing shoes without socks

4)   Calluses on the hands can be caused by repetitive sports such as rowing, golfing, tennis or biking without gloves


1)   Get shoes that fit properly!  It’s important to be proactive and to prevent calluses or corns if they bother you.  There are special shoe stores that work with foot doctors to help you select shoes that fit your feet properly.  Some people are born with narrow or wide feet and that makes it more difficult to find shoes that fit properly.  If you are getting painful corns or calluses, take time and visit a store where someone can help you to pick out shoes that fit you well

2)   Avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes without socks

3)   If you have spots on your feet that rub inside your shoes, you can get special pads that prevent rubbing

Treatment:  I often work with patients who come into the clinic to trim the corn or callus down so that it reduces the pressure in the affected area.  I use a scalpel to carefully trim away the thickened skin.  A foot doctor (podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating conditions of the foot/ankle) can make special orthotic devices that can help reduce the pain and help prevent recurrence of corns/calluses.  Some people treat calluses themselves by purchasing special pads that contain medications to burn or dissolve the thick skin.  I highly recommend that patients with diabetes be seen and treated by a medical provider to reduce the risk of infection.  Diabetic patients are at increased risk of foot infections and should be seen for yearly foot examinations even if they don’t have calluses or corns.

This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient.  If you have questions please contact your medical provider.


I hope that you have found this information useful.  Wishing you the best of health,

Scott Rennie, DO



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