Understanding Corns and Calluses on Feet: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Posted 27 Nov '23

Understanding Corns and Calluses on Feet: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Are you tired of dealing with painful and unsightly corns and calluses? Look no further! In this article, we will dive deep into the causes, prevention, and treatment options for corns and calluses. Corns and calluses are common foot problems that can cause discomfort and frustration. Whether you're an athlete, someone who spends long hours on their feet, or simply someone who wants to keep their feet looking and feeling their best, understanding the ins and outs of corns and calluses is essential. We will explore the various factors that contribute to the development of corns and calluses, including ill-fitting footwear, repetitive friction, and pressure on the skin. Additionally, we will uncover effective prevention strategies to keep these pesky skin conditions at bay. Lastly, we will provide you with a range of treatment options, from at-home remedies to professional interventions, so you can find the solution that works best for you. Get ready to step into a world of knowledge and bid farewell to corns and calluses once and for all!

What are corns and calluses?

Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop in response to repeated friction, pressure, or irritation. While they may seem similar, there are subtle differences between the two. Corns typically appear on the tops or sides of the toes, whereas calluses usually form on the soles of the feet. Corns can be painful and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin, while calluses are usually painless and have a more diffuse thickening of the skin. Both corns and calluses are the body's natural defense mechanisms to protect the skin from further damage. However, if left untreated, they can become increasingly uncomfortable and even lead to more serious complications.

Causes of corns and calluses

Corns and calluses can develop due to various factors, with ill-fitting footwear being one of the primary culprits. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause friction and pressure on specific areas of the feet, leading to the formation of corns and calluses. Additionally, repetitive motions or activities that involve excessive pressure on the feet, such as running or walking long distances, can contribute to the development of these skin conditions. People with certain foot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes, are also more prone to developing corns and calluses. Lastly, individuals with dry skin are more susceptible to these conditions as their skin is less able to withstand friction and pressure.

Difference between corns and calluses

Although corns and calluses share similarities, it's important to understand the differences between them to determine the most appropriate treatment. Corns are typically smaller and have a defined center, which can be hard or soft. Corns can be painful and may cause discomfort when pressure is applied. On the other hand, calluses are larger, have a more diffuse thickening of the skin, and are usually painless. Calluses are the body's way of protecting itself from constant friction or pressure. Understanding these distinctions will help you identify the best course of action to address your specific foot condition.

Common areas where corns and calluses develop

Corns and calluses can develop in various areas of the feet, depending on the underlying cause. The most common areas include the tops and sides of the toes, the soles of the feet, and the areas between the toes. Corns that form between the toes are known as soft corns and are often caused by excessive moisture or tight-fitting shoes. These areas are prone to friction and pressure, making them more susceptible to corns and calluses. By identifying the specific areas where corns and calluses tend to appear, you can take proactive measures to prevent their occurrence.

Prevention and self-care tips for corns and calluses

Preventing corns and calluses is possible with the right knowledge and self-care practices. One of the most crucial steps is choosing the right footwear. Opt for shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning, with enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Avoid shoes that are too tight or have high heels, as they can increase pressure on certain areas of the feet. Regularly moisturising your feet can also help prevent dry skin, reducing the likelihood of corns and calluses. Additionally, using protective padding or silicone toe sleeves can provide a barrier between your skin and shoes, minimising friction and pressure. Finally, maintaining proper foot hygiene and regularly exfoliating dead skin can help keep your feet smooth and free from corns and calluses, we have lots of advice on this on our ultimate guide to healthy feet. 

Choosing the right footwear to prevent corns and calluses

Choosing the right footwear is crucial in preventing corns and calluses. Start by measuring your feet periodically, as foot size can change over time. When trying on shoes, make sure there is enough space in the toe area to wiggle your toes comfortably. Look for shoes made from breathable materials that allow air circulation, reducing the chances of excessive moisture and sweat. Opt for shoes with cushioned soles and arch support to absorb shock and reduce pressure on the feet. Avoid high heels or shoes with narrow toe boxes, as they can squeeze and irritate your feet, leading to corns and calluses. By investing in proper footwear, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing these skin conditions.

Over-the-counter treatments for corns and calluses

If you have corns or calluses, there are several over-the-counter treatments available that can help soften and remove the thickened skin. However here at Flawless Feet we are not big fans of these and feel that putting acid treatments on corns and callus is not the best way to deal with them. If anything, they can cause them to get worse and even more painful. We would always advise to consult a podiatrist, especially if you have severe or persistent symptoms.

Professional treatments for severe corns and calluses

If your corns or calluses are causing significant pain or discomfort, or if they have not responded to over-the-counter treatments, it may be time to seek professional help. Podiatrists can offer a range of treatments to address severe corns and calluses. One common approach is debridement, which involves the removal of the thickened skin using special tools. This procedure is typically performed in a sterile environment and can provide immediate relief. Another option is the use of prescription-strength medications, such as topical retinoids or corticosteroids, which can help soften the skin and reduce inflammation. In some cases, orthotic devices or custom-made shoe inserts may be recommended to alleviate pressure on specific areas of the feet. By consulting a professional podiatrist, you can receive personalised and effective treatments to tackle your corns and calluses.

When to see a Podiatrist for corns and calluses

While many corns and calluses can be managed with self-care and over-the-counter treatments, there are instances when it's necessary to seek medical attention. If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or any other pre-existing medical conditions that affect your feet, it's crucial to consult a doctor before attempting any self-treatment. Additionally, if you experience severe pain, swelling, or signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or pus, it's important to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires professional care. Remember, it's always better to err on the side of caution and consult a podiatrist when in doubt.


Corns and calluses may be common foot problems, but with the right knowledge and proactive measures, they can be effectively prevented and treated. By understanding the causes of corns and calluses, you can make informed decisions about your footwear choices and daily foot care routine. Implementing self-care practices, such as moisturising, exfoliating, and using protective padding, can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing these skin conditions. If you do develop corns or calluses, over-the-counter treatments can provide relief for mild to moderate cases. However, for severe or persistent symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized treatment options. By taking proactive steps and seeking appropriate care, you can bid farewell to corns and calluses and keep your feet looking and feeling their best!

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