Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure.

Corns are small conical shaped areas of hard skin which press on underlying nerve endings, often causing considerable pain. They usually occur on the toes or soles of the feet (plantar corns), almost always over a bony prominence, such as a joint.

A corn is simply an excess of skin cells in one spot due to pressure or friction on that part of the foot whereas a callus develops over a larger area of the foot. Traditionally poor footwear has been held responsible for causing corns but we now know it is not as simple as this. If the foot is unstable, excessive pressure will fall on the toes and soles of the feet and the skin thickens on these areas for protection.

There are five different types of corns with the two most common being hard and soft corns.


These are the most common corns and appear as small, concentrated areas of hard skin up to the size of a small pea, usually within a wider area of thickened skin or callous. Often hard corns on the toes or soles of the feet are symptoms of feet not functioning properly. Simply removing a corn without addressing the underlying bio-mechanical foot fault is likely to give only temporary relief.


An example of a hard corn over the ball of the foot



These develop in a similar way to hard corns. However, as they are almost always found between the toes they have a soft, white appearance due to the moist condition of the skin. Often a fungal infection of the skin is also present and the skin is moist from sweat, or from inadequate drying.

Corn Callus

An example of a corn at the bottom of the foot


These are tiny corns that tend to occur either singly or in clusters on the bottom of the foot. They are usually painless.


These corns have nerve and/or blood vessel involvement. They may bleed profusely if they are cut and can be very painful.


These arise from corns that have been present for a long time. They often have a white appearance and tend to be more firmly attached to the deeper tissues than any other corn. They may also be painful under pressure.


There are numerous self treatments commercially available from corn knives to corn plasters containing caustics which destroy the thickened skin. Such self treatments should be avoided as they are potentially very dangerous. Don’t cut corns yourself, especially if you are elderly or diabetic, and don’t use corn plasters or paints which can burn the healthy tissue around the corns. You could use a pumice stone to remove the thickened skin a little at a time, or relieve pressure between the toes with a foam wedge, but if you are unsure of what to do, or need special attention, please consult a registered Podiatrist/Chiropodist at The Abbots Langley Foot Clinic. Corns can easily be removed to give instant relief. However, if the underlying cause is not dealt with, the corn may return.