Corns and Calluses: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


Corns and callusess are thick, thickened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. They most usually develop on the feet and toes or hands and fingers. Corns and calluses could be unsightly.

If you are healthy, you require treatment for corns and calluses only if they cause discomfort. For most people, simply removing the source of friction or pressure makes corns and calluses disappear.

If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you are at higher risk of complications from corns and calluses. Look for your doctor’s or primary care physician’s advice on proper care for corns and calluses if you have such a condition.

Corns and Calluses


You might have a corn or a callus if you notice:

  • A thick, rough region of skin
  • A hardened, raised bump
  • Tenderness or pain under your skin
  • Flaky, dry, or waxy skin
  • Corns and calluses are different things

Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by swollen skin. Corns tend to develop on portions of your feet that do not bear weight, like the tops and sides of your toes and even between your toes. They could also be found in weight-bearing regions. Corns could be painful when pressed.

Calluses are barely painful. They generally develop on the soles of your feet, particularly under the heels or balls, on your palms, or on your knees. Calluses differ in size and shape and are usually larger than corns.


If a corn or callus becomes very painful or swollen, see your doctor or primary care physician. If you have diabetes or poor blood flow, call your doctor or primary care physician before self-treating corn or callus because even a minor injury to your foot could lead to an infected open sore (ulcer).

All About Corns and Calluses Treatment


The pressure and friction of repetitive actions result in the development and growth of corns and calluses. Some causes of this pressure and friction include:

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes – Tight shoes and high heels could compress regions of your feet. When footwear is too loose, your foot might repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. Your foot might also rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.
  • Skipping socks – Wearing shoes and sandals without socks could cause friction on your feet. Socks that do not fit properly also could be a problem.
  • Playing instruments or using hand tools – Calluses on your hands might result from the repeated pressure of playing instruments, using hand tools, or even writing.


These factors might increase your risk of corns and calluses:

  • Bunions – A bunion is an uncommon, bony bump that forms on the joint at the bottom of your big toe.
  • Hammertoe – A hammertoe is a defect in which your toe curls like a claw.
  • Other foot deformities – Specific conditions, like a bone spur, could cause constant rubbing inside your shoe.
  • Not protecting your hands – Using hand tools without wearing gloves exposes your skin to extreme friction.

All About Corns and Calluses


These approaches might help you prevent corns and calluses:

  • Wear shoes that give your toes plenty of room – If you cannot wiggle your toes, your shoes are too tight. Have a shoe store stretch your shoes at any point that rubs or pinches.
  • Use protective coverings – Wear felt pads, non-medicated corn pads, or bandages over regions that rub against your footwear. You could also try toe separators or some lamb’s wool between your toes.
  • Wear padded gloves when working with hand tools – Or try padding your tool handles with fabric tape or covers.


Your doctor or primary care physician will examine your feet and rule out other causes of thickened skin, like warts and cysts. He or she might suggest an X-ray if a physical abnormality is causing the corn or callus.


Treatment for corns and calluses generally involves avoiding the repetitive actions that caused them to develop. You could help resolve them by wearing accurately fitting shoes, using protective pads, and taking other self-care measures.

If a corn or callus persists or becomes painful despite your self-care efforts, medical treatments could provide relief:

  • Trimming away excess skin – Your doctor or primary care physician could pare down thickened skin or trim a large corn with a scalpel, generally during an office visit. Do not try this yourself because it can lead to an infection.
  • Callus-removing medication – Your doctor or primary care physician might also apply a patch containing forty percent salicylic acid (Clear Away, MediPlast, others). These patches are available on a non-prescription basis. Your doctor or primary care physician will let you know how often you require to replace this patch. He or she might suggest that you use a pumice stone, nail file, or emery board to smooth away dead skin before applying a new patch. You could also get a prescription for salicylic acid in gel form to apply to larger regions.
  • Shoe inserts – If you have a hidden foot defect, your doctor or primary care physician might prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts (orthotics) to prevent recurring corns or calluses.
  • Surgery – In rare examples, your doctor or primary care physician might suggest surgery to correct the alignment of a bone causing friction.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from corns and calluses, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call 469-545-9983 to book an telehealth appointment for an at home check-up.

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