Corns & Calluses
Corns and calluses are thick, toughened layers of skin that build up when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. They are the body's way of protecting the skin and the structures beneath it from injury. Scholl
Corns and calluses are often confused, but they're not the same thing:
- Corns are hard cone-shaped bumps of skin surrounded by inflamed skin, and are smaller than calluses. Corns tend to develop on the top and the side of your toes but can also develop between your toes. It can be painful when pressed.
- Calluses are somewhat rounded flat thickenings of the skin that usually develop on the soles of the feet, especially under the heels or balls. Though often larger than corns, calluses are rarely painful and vary in size and shape.
Symptoms include a generalized burning sensation or (at times) severe pain in a specific area. People who have diabetes and a decreased touch sensation are at higher risk of developing ulcers and an infection at the site of the callus or corn if left untreated.
By examining your feet, the doctor can rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts.
These suggestions may help clear up corn and calluses:
- Reduce the size of the callus or corn by soaking your foot in warm water and then using a pumice stone to lightly wear away the dead skin. Don't use a pumice stone if you have diabetes because your risk of infection is higher.
- Apply moisturizer to feet to help keep your skin soft.
- Wear shoes that fit well and are roomy, with enough space in the area that surrounds the toes. This keeps the toes from pressing against each other and against the top of the shoe, relieving pressure on corns. Thicker soles can help relieve pressure on calluses when you are walking. Also, choose socks that fit properly and are made of a polyester-cotton blend because they wick moisture away better than all-cotton socks do.
- To prevent rubbing, use protective padding such as moleskin or orthotic shoe inserts to cushion the callus or corn or to hold the foot and toes in a more comfortable position.
If a corn or callus persists or becomes painful despite your self-care efforts, other treatments can provide relief:
- Custom-made padded shoe inserts (orthotics) to prevent recurring corns or calluses can be helpful if you have an underlying foot deformity.
- Used as indicated, salicylic acid containing products are gentle for most people. Salicylic acid treatments are available without a prescription in different forms including applicators, drops, pads and plasters.
- An antibiotic ointment can also be applied to prevent or treat an infection.
- Doctors can pare down thickened skin or trim a large corn with a scalpel. Don't try trimming yourself because it could lead to an infection.
- Surgery is rarely necessary to treat calluses or corns.
These approaches may help you prevent corns and calluses from developing:
- Wear shoes with a large toe box. You should be able to wiggle your toes.
- Use protective coverings. Wear felt pads, nonmedicated corn pads or bandages over areas that rub against footwear. You can also try toe separators or some lamb's wool between your toes.
When to consult a doctor
- If a corn or callus becomes very painful or inflamed.
- If you have diabetes or poor circulation, because even a relatively minor injury to your foot could lead to an infected open sore (foot ulcer) that's difficult to heal.
- If the corn bothers you and doesn't respond to salicylic acid and trimming.
Products that could interest you
One Step® Callus Removers
2 Drop® Corn & Callus Remedy
Moleskin™ Plus Padding
Moleskin™ Plus Padding Roll
- Dr. Scholl’s® Corn Removers
- Dr. Scholl’s® Ultra Thin Corn Removers
- Dr. Scholl’s® One Step® Corn Removers
- Dr. Scholl’s® Corn Cushions