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Home :: Corns And Calluses

Corns And Calluses

A corn is a painful thickening (bump) of the outer skin layer, usually over bony areas such as toe joints.

A Calluses is a painless (usually) thickening of skin caused by repeated pressure or irritation. Corns and calluses form to protect a skin area from injury caused by repeated irritation (rubbing or squeezing). Pressure causes cells in the irritated area to grow at a faster rate, leading to overgrowth. They are a frequent problem for all athletes.

Types of calluses

A plantar callus, a callus that occurs on the sole of the foot, has a white center. Hereditary calluses develop where there is no apparent friction, run in families, and occur most often in children.


Repeated injury to the skin, particularly on the feet. These occur frequently in athletes due to excessive perspiration, increased heat, friction of clothing and protective gear, or poorly fitting shoes. Athletic activities that cause pressure on the hands or knees include throwing sports, gripping sports and wrestling.

The thickening of the skin is a protective reaction. For example, farmers and rowers get callused hands that prevent them from getting painful blisters. People with bunions often develop a callus over the bunion because it rubs against the shoe.

Neither corns nor calluses are serious conditions.

Signs and symptoms

  • Corn: A small, painful, raised bump on the side or over the joint of a toe. Corns are usually 3mm to 10mm in diameter and have a hard center.
  • Calluses: A rough, thickened area of skin that appears after repeated pressure or irritation.


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a medical doctor or a podiatrist.


If a corn persists or becomes painful despite self-care, several treatments can provide relief. Your doctor can pare down a large corn with a scalpel, usually during an office visit. Your doctor may also suggest applying an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.

Home Treatment

  • Rub the thickened area with a pumice stone, sandstone, calluses file or sandpaper to remove it. Don't cut it with a razor. Soak the area in warm water to soften it before rubbing.
  • After removing the top skin layer, cleanse the treated area with soap and water and apply a non-medicated corn or callus pad. Stretch the in the pad to fit over the corn or callus and overlap at least 1/8 inch on all sides. Then wrap the treated area with adhesive tape.
  • Remove the source of pressure, if possible. Discard ill-fitting shoes.
  • Use corn and calluses pads to reduce pressure on irritated areas.
  • Ask the shoe repairman to sew a metatarsal bar onto your shoe to use while a corn is healing.


  • After peeling the upper layers of the corn or calluses once or twice a day, apply ointment, petroleum jelly or massage oil.
  • Your doctor may prescribe cortisone injections.
  • Don't wear shoes that fit poorly.
  • Avoid activities that create constant pressure on specific skin areas.
  • When possible, wear protective gear such as gloves or knee pads.
  • Use corn and calluses pads on the feet to reduce pressure on irritated areas.
  • Stretch the shoe at the spot where it covers the corn or calluses.
  • Treat new shoes with leather-softening compounds such as mink oil.

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