Corns and calluses are hard, painful areas of skin that often develop on the feet in response to pressure or friction.
They happen when the skin tries to protect an underlying area from injury, pressure, or rubbing.
Neither is dangerous, but they can cause irritation.
They are more common among people who wear ill-fitting shoes, have sweaty feet, and those who stand for long periods each day.
They affect women more than men.
Fast facts about corns and calluses
Here are some facts about corns and calluses. There is more detailed information in the main article,
Corns have a distinct, often hard, center, which may be surrounded by inflamed skin.
Corns can be painful when pressed, but calluses are not usually painful.
Calluses are usually larger than corns, and they vary in shape, while corns tend to be smaller, round and well-defined.
Calluses normally develop on the soles of the feet, especially under the heels or balls, on the palms of the hands, and also on the knees. Corns often occur in non-weight-bearing parts of the skin.
A pumice stone or over-the-counter topical medicine can be used to treat corns and calluses without going to see a doctor.
Painful corns or calluses may need medical attention.
Lifestyle and clothing changes can help prevent corns and calluses.
What is the difference between corns and calluses?
People sometimes mistakenly use the terms corns and calluses interchangeably, but they are not the same.
What is a callus?
A corn is a type of callus.
A callus is a section of skin that has become toughened and thick because of friction, pressure, or irritation. They often happen on the feet, but they can occur on the hands, elbows, or knees.
Calluses are yellowish or pale in color. They feel lumpy to the touch, but, as the skin is thick, it may be less sensitive to touch compared with the skin around it.
Calluses are often bigger and wider than corns, with less defined edges. They commonly appear where the skin frequently rubs against something, such as a bone, some item of footwear, or the ground.
They typically form over the bony area just under the toes, areas of skin that take the person’s weight when they are walking.
What is a corn?
A corn is a kind of callus, made of dead skin.
They usually form on smooth, hairless skin surfaces, especially on the top or the side of the toes. They are usually small and circular, with a clearly defined center that can be hard of soft.
Hard corns tend to be small, and they occur in areas of firm, hard skin, where the skin has thickened or where there are calluses, and in bony areas of the foot.
Soft corns tend to be whitish in color, with a rubbery texture. They more commonly occur between the toes, in areas of moist and sweaty skin.
Calluses and corns are not normally harmful, but sometimes they may lead to infections or ulcerations of the skin, especially among people with diabetes and those with poor circulation in the feet.
Calluses have become toughened and thick due to friction. People can normally carry out treatment at home using over-the-counter products, but in especially painful cases may wish to see a podiatrist.
Corns and calluses can make a person feel as if they are walking on stones.
The following signs or symptoms may indicate that there is a corn or callus:
a raised, hardened bump
a thick and rough area of skin
skin that is flaky and dry or flaky and waxy
pain or tenderness under the skin
If a corn or callus becomes very inflamed or painful, the patient should seek medical advice.
Patients with poor circulation, fragile skin, or nerve problems and numbness in the feet should talk to their doctors before treating corns and calluses at home.
People with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and peripheral arterial disease need to be particularly watchful.
A podiatrist might cut away some of the thick skin with a scalpel to relieve pressure on the tissues that lie beneath. People should not cut the corn or callus themself as it could make it more painful and the risk of infection is high.
More information on removing calluses and corns can be found in the “home remedies” section below.