Corns and Calluses

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Corns and calluses facts

  • Corns and calluses are annoying and sometimes painful thickenings that form in the skin in areas of pressure.
  • Corns and calluses can be prevented by reducing or eliminating the circumstances that lead to increased pressure at specific points on the hands and feet.
  • Corns and calluses can be treated with many types of medicated products to chemically pare down the thickened, dead skin.
  • People with fragile skin or poor circulation in the feet (including many people with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease) should consult their health-care professional as soon as corns or calluses develop.

What are corns and calluses?

Corns and calluses are annoying and sometimes painful thickenings that form in the skin in areas of excessive pressure. The medical term for the thickened skin that forms corns and calluses is hyperkeratosis (plural=hyperkeratoses). A callus refers to a more diffuse, flattened area of thick skin, while a corn is a thick, localized area that usually has a conical or circular shape. Corns, also known as helomas, sometimes have a dry, waxy, or translucent appearance.

Corns and calluses occur on parts of the feet and sometimes the fingers. Corns can be painful to walk on, even when they are small. Common locations for corns are

Picture of corns and calluses
  • on the sole, over the metatarsal arch (the "ball" of the foot);
  • on the outside of the fifth (small or "pinky") toe, where it rubs against the shoe;
  • between the fourth and fifth toes. Unlike other corns that are firm and flesh-colored, corns between the toes are often whitish and messy; they are sometimes called "soft corns" (heloma molles), in contrast to the more common "hard corns" (heloma durums) found in other locations.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2012

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Corns - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your corns?
Corns - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with your corns?
Corns and Calluses - Seeing a Doctor Question: If you have corns or calluses, what were your reasons for seeking medical help?
Corns and Calluses - Prevention Question: How do you prevent recurrences of corns or calluses? Have you changed the type or style of shoes you wear?
Corns and Calluses - Risks Question: Are your shoes too tight? Explain the reasons why you think you developed corns or calluses.

Corns and Other Common Causes of Foot Pain

Because we expose our feet to potential injury in our daily lives by walking, we have all experienced pains in the feet at one time or another. There are many common causes of foot pains, such as blisters and corns. There are also less common causes of foot pain, such as sciatica and osteomyelitis. Treatments for foot pain depend on the particular cause.

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