Foot Health

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thick, hard spots of dead skin caused by rubbing and pressure. They’re not pretty, and they can cause discomfort. Take a closer look at your feet to see if you’ve got a corn or callus. 

  • Corns are on the tops of toes and other bony areas of the foot. You can see them by looking straight down at your feet. 
  • Calluses are on the side or bottom of your toes or soles. You have to pick up your foot or lean over to see them. 

What Causes Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are mainly caused by shoes that don’t fit properly. When your feet experience constant rubbing or pressure due to ill-fitting shoes, corns and calluses can develop. 

Love the stilettos you spotted in Vogue magazine? Unfortunately, women who wear high heels and uncomfortable shoes in the name of fashion are common corn and callus sufferers. But corns and calluses may also appear if you have certain deforming foot conditions that affect how you walk, such as hammertoes or bunions. Even with supportive shoes, these bone deformities may chafe against your toes and form calluses. 

While corns and calluses are not generally dangerous to your health, they can be painful and also rather unsightly. 

Corns or calluses can be aggravated by:

  • Prolonged standing 
  • Shoes with narrow toe boxes, especially high heels and dress shoes 
  • Toe friction inside shoes or socks, often from excess moisture 
  • Pressure from wearing high-heeled shoes 
  • Obesity 
  • Flat feet 
  • High arches 
  • Bunions 
  • Hammertoes 

 Think you might have corns or calluses? 

Self-Assessment Quiz 

Do I have: 

  • An area of excess skin on the ball of my foot, heel, or toe? 
  • An area on my foot that feels hard or rough to the touch? 
  • Bumps or areas of skin on my foot that seem higher than surrounding smooth skin? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely have corns or calluses. 

Are There Any Serious Concerns with Corns or Calluses? 

For most people, no. But if you have diabetes, open sores called ulcerations can develop from corns and calluses. Ulcerations can progress quickly to infection, abscess, or even a life- or limb-threatening emergency. If you are diabetic, check your feet daily and discuss any open sores with your doctor. 

Treatment and Prevention 

First and foremost, wear shoes that fit properly. 

Choose shoes with: 

  • An overall good fit, with no rubbing or pressure points. Friction is your enemy. 
  • Good cushioning for the sole. 
  • Wide toe boxes. 


  • Stop wearing shoes that irritate your feet or toes. Life is too short to wear painful shoes, really. Try using shoe stretchers or toe protectors in any uncomfortable shoes you are unwilling to give up. 

  • Limit the time you wear high heels or dress shoes. Flats are making a fashion comeback! 

  • Use cushions and pads to reduce rubbing and pressure points. 

  • Apply creams. Use twice a day for stubborn corns or calluses.
  • Try using files or pumice stones to soften and smooth down corns and calluses. 

These treatments should bring relief in a matter of weeks. If they don’t, you may want to consult a podiatrist. 

Are There Any Treatments I Should Avoid? 

Never try to cut out, shave, or scrape off corns or calluses with a razor or scissors. You could hurt yourself or increase your risk of infection. Many mechanical debriders sold as corn and callous solutions present the same risks. 

Also, avoid chemical patches and solutions. They come with the possibility of side effects or complications, especially from overuse. 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider on all matters relating to this or any other condition that may affect your health.
Foot health