Calluses and Corns

Calluses and corns are hardened layers of skin that develop as your skin’s response excessive pressure and friction on the foot.

A callus is a rough, flattened area of thick skin on the outer surface of the foot caused by excessive pressure or irritation. Calluses are bigger and wider than corns with less defined edges. They often form over bony areas of the foot, such as on the heel and ball of the foot. Calluses are yellowish or pale in color, and feel thick or rough and are typically not sensitive to touch.

A corn is a hardened, raised area of thick skin that push inward on the foot. A corn is a kind of callus made of dead skin that are usually small and circular, with a clearly defined center that can be hard or soft. Hard corns tend to be small and form over bony areas of the foot where the skin has thickened or callused. Soft corns tend to be whitish in color, with a rubbery texture. They commonly form between the toes, in areas of moist and sweaty skin. Corns most often develop on the tops and sides of the foot between the toes, and can also be found in weight-bearing areas.


The thickening of the skin that occurs with both calluses and corns is called hyperkeratosis. Hyperkeratosis is the result of pressure or friction on an area of skin. Pressure causes the skin to die and form a hard, protective surface. A soft corn develops in the same way, except sweat gets trapped where the corn develops and the hard core softens. The main causes of calluses and corns include:

  • Footwear that is too short or too tight
  • Footwear that causes friction or excessive pressure on a specific area of the foot
  • Standing or walking for long periods of time
  • Abnormalities in gait or movement
  • Repeated pressure caused by anatomical deformities such as flat feet, bone spurs, bunions, hammer, claw or mallet toes
  • A thick, hard, yellowing patch of skin
  • Rounded or cone-shaped bump that appears on the skin’s surface
  • Skin that is sensitive to the touch
  • Area of dry, flaky skin
  • Pain or tenderness that interferes with walking or other activities

Basic treatment for calluses and corns usually involve avoiding the repetitive action that caused them to develop. Most calluses in corns will gradually disappear when the friction or pressure stops. Additional medical treatments include:

  • Self-care: wearing properly fitting shoe, using protective pads, and avoiding repetitive actions that irritate the foot.
  • Trimming down excess skin: helps reduced the thickened skin causing pressure and discomfort. This is a procedure that should only be performed by your treating physician.
  • Removal medications: patches, pumice stones, nail files, or emery boards can be used to help smooth away dead skin. Please consult your physician for recommendations about products and how they are to be used.
  • Shoe inserts: custom shoe inserts (orthotics) can be used to prevent recurring corns and calluses.
  • Surgery: is a rare treatment option recommended to correct the alignment of a bone causing friction.