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A callus is a thickening of the skin where it regularly rubs against something. For example, a callus may form on a finger due to pressure from a pen or pencil stringed instrument. On the feet, calluses may be caused movement against the inside of shoes.
A corn is a protective thickening of the skin on the top of the foot. It is usually on a bony, knobby area of a toe and can be painful. Firm, dry corns that form on the surface of a toe are called hard corns. Moist corns that form between the toes are called soft corns.
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Calluses and corns form as protective pads of skin in response to repeated friction or pressure. Common causes of calluses include:
Common causes of corns include:
Factors that may increase the risk of calluses and corns include:
Symptoms of calluses include:
Symptoms of corns include:
Large corns or calluses may have some bleeding in space between thick and normal skin. It will cause some brown, red, or black to appear in them. Some corns and calluses may pull away from normal skin. It can open the skin and increase the risk of infection.
The doctor can diagnose a callus or corn by a visual exam. They will ask about any other foot problems and health issues like diabetes or circulation problems. The doctor may inspect the feet for:
Treatment of calluses and corns usually include self-care and medication. In severe cases, minor surgery may be necessary. People with diabetes or circulatory problems should always see a doctor or podiatrist for treatment because self-treatment may lead to severe infection for these individuals.
A foot specialist may help if the callus or corn is interfering with walking. The doctor may be able to find what is causing the callus or corn. Special padding or shoe inserts may relieve pain. Some of the callus or corn tissue may be shaved off with a scalpel to ease pressure on area.
Severe foot deformities may need surgery to correct them.
To prevent calluses:
To prevent corns:
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Corns. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/corns/. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Corns and calluses. Harvard Medical School website. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/corns-and-calluses. Published May 2014. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardNicole S. Meregian, PA Last Updated: 1/26/2021