Having unsightly feet can be really distressing, and spotting a single corn on your smallest toe is enough to make it look very displeasing to the eye, especially in summer when the toes are exposed for all to see. Corns form when excess pressure is placed on the skin, in particular in the balls of the feet, toes, heels and any area where the bodyweight is exerted in full.

By definition, corns and calluses refer to the thick patches of skin commonly found in on the feet. Corns on feet are a form of callus, and do not affect other areas of the body, although callused skin can form anywhere where there is pressure, most commonly on the feet and hands. In some cases they may be a sign of a more serious foot disorder or gait irregularity. A doctor or podiatrist will be the best person to offer advice on the best treatments, although in most cases a podiatrist will remove corns and calluses as part of a checkup.

In most cases calluses and corns on feet are a cosmetic problem, and in themselves are not a cause for concern, although the thickening of the skin may cause some discomfort or pain. Discussed below are the different causes, high-risk groups, manifestations and treatment methods for both corns on feet and foot calluses.

People most at risk

People who are at higher risk of developing corns and calluses include those who spend a long time standing up, walking or exercising as they are most likely to suffer from excess pressure on the feet. People with flat feet and those who wear improper footwear are also more prone to develop these unsightly foot problems. The elderly are also included in the list, as aging skin loses elasticity and fatty tissues degrade, making the skin on the feet more susceptible to develop corns. Anyone who is overweight naturally exerts greater forces on the feet, and is at greater risk. Toe deformities and bone abnormalities are also strong risk factors.

Causes of corns on feet and callused skin

Many factors are shown to cause corns and calluses, the most common of which is the wearing of ill-fitting footwear. Shoes that feel too tight exert too much pressure on hot spots in the feet. Friction results from loose fitting shoes where the feet slide around, and can lead to corns on feet and a general thickening of the skin.

Over-walking and running also cause calluses in the sole area. If the bones comprising your toes are prominent, your skin is likely to rub more easily inside your shoes, causing friction that will thicken the skin even more. People who wear high heeled shoes are some of the most common sufferers of corns and calluses, as more of the body weight is exerted on the balls of the feet.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common sign is the development of thick patches of hard skin and the presence of small bumps along the foot, which usually have a core at the center. When you put further pressure on the affected area, pain is often felt. In rare cases, the callus is pushed inside the foot, instead of being spread all over the skin. In many cases, the first sign of a corn or callus forming is a blister.


There are many medicated products available wither over the counter or available cheaply online to treat corns and calluses. These can be split into those which ease the pressure on the affected area, such as corn pads and plasters, and those which concentrate on removal of the hard skin. Corn files are excellent for abrading the dead skin, with corn drops the chemical equivalent.

The common ingredient in the chemical treatments is salicylic acid, the same component used to remove skin warts. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, however, you are not advised to use salicylic acid because applying this can potentially lead to skin ulcers. You should be very careful not to cut or shave your corns or calluses yourself, because doing so can result to infection in the surrounding tissues. Also whilst corns and calluses are dead skin, the skin underneath is perfectly healthy, and cutting away too much will be painful. It is very easy to overdo it, and you may not realize that you have pared away too much until too late. It is best to visit a chiropodist or podiatrist for this method of treatment. In cases where your corns and calluses are already infected, your doctor may advise you to take antibiotics or apply antibiotic cream.

Will corns and calluses return after removal?

In almost all cases, the answer is yes. Calluses and corns on feet form for a reason, and if that root cause is not found and treated, they are likely to return. Simple steps to prevent this includes wearing proper footwear, adding an insole to the shoes for extra cushioning or treating gait irregularities with orthotic devices in the shoes. Fortunately, in most cases corns and calluses can be left and will cause no problem for the health.