Corns and Calluses

What are Corns and Calluses?


Corns and callouses are a condition that affects the skin. A great majority of the population is familiar with these conditions, but are unsure of what causes them.

Corns and callouses are layers of skin that becomes hard in an effort to protect itself against conditions that cause friction and pressure to damage the skin. Most often, these conditions appear on the feet and toes. They are also common on the hands and fingers.

Even though corns and callouses can look strange, treatment is not necessary unless they cause you some type of discomfort.

What are the Symptoms of Corns and Calluses?

Symptoms include

  • Thick, tough, rough area of skin in the affected area
  • A raised, hardened bump in the affected area
  • Pain or tenderness under the skin
  • Waxy, dry, flaky skin

Corns and Calluses Causes

Pressure and friction are the two main causes of corns and calluses. The formation of corns and calluses occurs as a protective reaction of the skin against blistering and damage.

Below are more specific causes of these skin patches:

  • Ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that do not fit correctly or are excessively tight end up compressing areas of the feet and building friction. Similarly, a loose shoe keeps the foot in a repeated slide which rubs against the inside walls of the shoe.
  • Running or walking for long periods. Running, walking, and even standing in well-fitting shoes can also cause corns and calluses if done for extended periods.
  • Skipping socks. Not wearing socks with sandals and shoes increases friction on the feet. Improper socks can equally pose problems.
  • Wearing high heels. People wearing such shoes experience calluses over the ball of the foot since the pressure is increased on the joint.
  • Playing instruments with hand tools. Hand calluses can occur in persons who experience repeated pressure while playing instruments such as drum sets.

How are Corns and Calluses Treated?

It is never wise to treat corns or calluses on your own. This is because they can easily turn into open sores that become infected. If a callus or corn is bothersome or painful, contact your doctor to get treatment before self-treating.

Treatment includes

Treatment for corns and calluses usually involves the recommendation for you to avoid repetitive movements, most likely the ones that caused them to develop initially. Your doctor will also recommend that you wear shoes that fit properly and to use protective gloves on your hands or pads for your knees.

If the area is painful, your doctor may apply special medication that is meant to remove corns and callouses. The patches are available without a prescription, but it is important to confirm a diagnosis first. At times, a wart can produce the same appearance as a corn or callus.

Corns and Calluses Prevention

The only way of preventing corns and calluses is by reducing the pressure and friction on the area of the foot where they are likely to form.

Here are preventive actions one can take:

  • Get a professional to measure both feet at the shoe store then go ahead and purchase properly fitting shoes. Both width and length should be taken into consideration.
  • Avoid shoes that have sharp pointed toes as well as high heels. Although ladies and men equally need to wear stylish shoes to the office, they also need comfort. One can wear flat shoes right from home and change into formal shoes once at the office.
  • People working with instruments or who use hand tools should get gloves.
  • Get insoles, toe separators, or corn pads from the foot section area of drugstores. They can help relieve pressure and prevent the formation of corns and calluses between and around the toes.
Last Reviewed:
September 19, 2016
Last Updated:
December 08, 2017