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Corns Callouses

dr steve schaffer dpm
Podiatrist Who Treats Corns Calluses Pittsburgh

Corns –  Corns ans callouses are among the most commonly treated foot conditions. Corns are the thickening of the skin on its outer layer around the toe’s tops, where callouses are similar condition but on the bottom of the feet. These conditions are caused from pressure and can be painful. Can be removed by your podiatrist with a scalpel, don’t try this at home! Be careful applying over the counter corn pads to

Corns Callouses

Basic information- define callus:

While they may be annoying and painful, corns and calluses usually aren’t harmful. In essence, both are areas of thickened skin which form as a protective response to chronic friction. The technical term for the hard, thickened skin which forms both calluses and corns is hyperkeratosis, or hyperkeratoses in plural. These terms are rarely used, and even among professionals these conditions are simply called corns and calluses.


In a callus, this protective response takes the form of a diffuse, broad-based patch of hardened skin. The technical term for a callus is tyloma. Calluses commonly form on the hands of manual workers such as farmers and construction workers. On the feet, calluses often form on the bottom of the heel and the ball of the foot. Anyone who walks or runs a lot can develop calluses on their feet.

Corns are much more localized, are generally thicker, and can be quite hard. They tend to take on a conical appearance, and are almost exclusively found on the feet. The technical term for corns is helomas or clavi. In some patients they take on a dry, waxy look, sometimes even appearing translucent.

Callouses meaningCallouses Pittsburgh

Calluses are commonly found on both the hands and feet. In reality, any area subjected to repetitive friction can form a callus. While corns can also technically form anywhere, in the overwhelming majority of cases they’re found on specific locations of the feet. Calluses are generally painless, while corns have the potential to become quite painful. The following are common locations:

  • The plantar surface (bottom) of the foot, is also known as the sole.
  • When on the metatarsal arch, also known as the ball of the foot.
  • On the lateral (outside) edge of the fifth toe, corns are known more commonly as the “pinky” or small toe. Most corns are located here, as this area is especially prone to repetitive friction.

Another relatively common location for corns is between the fifth toe (pinky) and the fourth toe. Instead of having a hard, conical appearance, corns located here are often softer and whitish. Not surprisingly, these are commonly known as “soft corns,” or beloma molle. “Hard corns,” or heloma durum, are usually found elsewhere on the foot


How do podiatrists remove callouses?

In many cases, they don’t have to. Corns, and especially calluses, often go away on their own once the source of friction is removed. Often simply buying shoes which fit properly is all that’s needed. If this isn’t enough, podiatrists can apply padding around the corn to relieve excessive rubbing. If these two methods fail, then a podiatrist will carefully shave away the corn or callus. Nearly all podiatrists advise against using store bought acid-based corn remover products.

Home remedies for corns and callouses

  1. Using a hot water bath, soak the foot for about 10 minutes. This will soften the surface of the corn.
  2. Using a fingernail file or pumice stone, carefully sand away the top surface of the corn.
  3. Don’t rush. This method will certainly take multiple treatments, but complete removal of the corn is possible.

Corns are an unnatural thickening and hardening of the skin over points of excessive rubbing and pressure. They form over time, and generally assume a cone-like shape. In many cases corns are harmless if unsightly, and don’t cause any problems or symptoms. If a corn is located on a weight-bearing area of the foot, however, they can be quite painful. Corns are among the most common conditions treated by podiatrists.

Corns aren’t good “do-it-yourself” opportunities. This is especially true of diabetics, as any form of trauma to the foot can have far-reaching negative consequences. Only a trained podiatrist should remove a corn, which often involves shaving them down.

Calluses are similar to corns in many ways, and are also one of the most common conditions seen in podiatrists’ offices. They are also a thickening and hardening response, and tend to form on the bottoms of the feet, particularly the ball of the foot and heel. Calluses are rarely painful, yet can require treatment if they’re overly thick or become cracked. As with corns, never try to shave down a callus yourself with any type of sharp instrument. Again, this holds especially true for diabetics.

Soft corn between 4th and 5th toe

Dr Wize dpm
soft corn between 4th and 5th toe

Where do foot corns develop?

The places where foot corns develop are varied. Below are listed common spots where you might encounter a foot corn:

  • below your toenail
  • between your toes
  • on the sides or bottom of your feet

Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are bothersome conditions that may form from the thickened areas of skin that experience constant and excessive pressure. Medically this is known as hyperkeratosis, which translates to “an excessive growth of skin”.While a callus typically refers to an area of skin that is flat and elongated, a corn is usually a section of skin that exhibits a more protruding excess of skin, often protruding in a circular bump. Corns, also called helomas or clavi, are often dry or waxy to the touch, and can be translucent. Calluses may also be referred to as tylomas.

What causes foot corns?

dr Hobizal dpm

Corns can often develop when you are wearing constrictive shoes, standing or walking for a prolonged period of time, or on your feet bearing excessive loads. These can all cause painful corns on the bottom of the feet.

Another way to understand the definition of hyperkeratosis is that the skin thickens due to the pressure. This kind of thickening is a natural reaction to strengthen the skin against the friction or pressure. If there is an abnormality on your foot, you may be more prone to developing a corn or callus formation. Additionally, footwear that is restrictive can lead to certain spots of the foot to experience higher levels of friction. Finally, the way you walk, also known as your gait, may also affect the levels of pressure or friction on parts of your feet, leading to foot corns or calluses.

Treating and Preventing Corns on the Foot 

Foot corns are when layers of the skin harden from friction and pressure. It’s likely that you may have foot corns if you experience any of the following symptoms on your toes:

  • lumpy patches of skin that are yellow, and may be rough to the touch
  • sensitive skin
  • pain while wearing shoes 

Luckily, there are treatments for foot corns, as well as helpful preventative measure you can adopt to minimize your chances of developing them. Here we will give a brief overview of what you can do about foot corns in your life.

Corns on the fingers can develop, but it is unsure why. Since the friction and pressure generally associated with corns are absent on most areas of the skin, these must be the byproduct of other influences, such as tool-work (pens, hammers, etc.), playing a musical instrument (the strings on a guitar), or doing repetitive and vigorous tasks with your hands.

While lifestyles will impact the likelihood of developing a corn/callus, there is a significant increase in likelihood in persons over the age of 65 years old, with 20-65% of persons experiencing this condition in their lifetime.

How can you treat foot corns and callouses ?

Should you develop a corn, there are a few at-home remedies you can try out. First you’ll want to isolate the factors that caused the corn to develop, and eliminate them if you can (swapping up for a new pair of shoes, wearing less constrictive socks, etc.). After that, you’ll want to shop around for medicated products aimed at chemically paring down the dead skin. There are many different types of products, but you’ll want to look for an active ingredient known as salicylic acid, which is commonly used in over-the-counter wart removal products.

Salicylic acid is what is known as a keratolytic, which is a substance that actively dissolves the keratin protein that corns and calluses are composed of. When used as directed, keratolytic products offer a safe and gentle treatment option for those looking to avoid a doctor’s visit, and are available in several forms, such as

  • applicators
  • drops
  • pads
  • plasters