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What are Calluses and Corns?

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • January 22, 2018

The constant friction and pressure on the feet generally caused by footwear can cause a thick layer of skin called a callus to develop as a normal and natural response to the irritation. They are usually not painful, except when they form on the heels where cracks or fissures in the callus can become more pronounced, and prone to infection.

Corns are actually small calluses that usually form on top of the toes, but may also appear in between them, or on the soles of the feet. Corns can be thick, and tend to be much more painful then calluses, especially when they rub on the inside of your footwear. They can sometimes be confused with warts. A corn on a toe can become particularly painful if an infected ulcer develops underneath. If you experience toe deformities such as hammertoes you are also more likely to develop painful corns.

Treatment for corns and calluses

  • Wearing properly fitted, more comfortable shoes with a wide toe box
  • Applying pads around corns
  • Warm water soaks help to soften dead skin
  • Shave off dead skin with a pumice stone or file
  • Apply salicylic acid to dissolve corns

Since corns and calluses are symptomatic of other problems, it is best to perform self-treatment only after proper evaluation and suggestions for treatment. Podiatrists recommend that their diabetic patients avoid using salicylic acid and seek professional assistance in corn and callus removal to avoid complications. If you cut yourself, or you notice any sores or cuts on your feet, have them treated immediately, or serious infection can occur.

For severe corn and callus problems, or any other difficulties you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles, it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.