Corns and Calluses


A corn is a compact patch of hard skin with a dense core, located either on top or outside of a toe or the sole.


A callus is a patch of compact, dead skin up to an inch wide on the soles, palms or any area subject to constant friction.


Both give pain of varying degree depending on the pressure on it while walking.


Although some corns and calluses on the feet develop from improper walking motion, most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. A study done to analyze foot wear of 100 doctors showed as many as 80% wearing ill fitting shoes. High-heeled shoes are the worst offenders, putting pressure on the toes and making women four times as likely as men to experience foot problems.

To find out whether a hard patch of skin is a callus or a wart, your doctor may scrape some skin off the affected area. Warts bleed, but calluses just reveal more dead skin. The distinction is useful, because warts are viral and resist treatment, while most corns and calluses are easily treatable.


Corn caps, applied improperly, destroy healthy tissue around the corn. Properly positioned caps help relieve pressure on a corn.

You can consider surgery to remove a corn on the sole, but it is likely to come back unless done carefully and tip of the corn removed. A better approach is to keep your feet dry and friction free. Wear properly fitted shoes and cotton socks, not wool or synthetic fibers that might irritate the skin.


When it comes to corns and calluses, prevention is better than cure. Buy only properly fitting shoes. Be sure the width is correct and allow up to half an inch between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Avoid pointed shoes and high heels. Women who wear stylish shoes at work can take some of the pressure off their feet by walking to and from the office in correctly fitted athletic shoes.

Have your shoes repaired regularly. Worn soles give little protection from the shock of walking on hard surfaces, and worn linings can chafe the skin. Worn heels increase uneven pressure on the heel bone, which supports 25% of your weight. If the soles or heels of your shoes tend to wear unevenly, see an orthopedist about corrective shoes or insoles.