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Corns and Calluses: Definition, Causes, Differences and Treatment


I think you are here because you have corns and calluses or need to know how to treat corns and calluses. Here we have everything you should know about corns and calluses with the references on the page below.

What are corns and calluses?

Corns and calluses are a buildup of hard, thick and painful areas of skin that often develop on the feet in response to pressure or friction.

Although these hardened areas of skin can form anywhere on your body, you’ll usually see them on your feet, hands or fingers.

Corns and calluses typically form on the bony or prominent areas of feet. 


What are the causes of corns and calluses?


The hardened layers of skin of corns and calluses are actually your body’s way of protecting the underlying skin from the irritation and pressure.

Common causes of corns and calluses are:

  • Repeated friction
  • Rubbing
  • Irritation and pressure on the skin
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Sweaty feet
  • Stand for long periods each day

Develop naturally to help protect the skin underneath them, can develop anywhere on the body.

They are common on the tops and sides of the toes and on the balls of the feet. 

On the hands, they form on the areas where there is ongoing rubbing against the skin.

What is the difference between corns and calluses?


People sometimes mistakenly use the terms “corns” and “calluses” interchangeably, but these are not the same.


What is a corn?

A corn is a kind of callus made of dead skin, tend to be small and round. Corns on toes are very common because these are smooth, hairless skin surfaces.


There are three types of corns:

  1. Hard corns: tend to be small, hard dense areas of skin usually within a larger area of thickened skin, and in bony  areas where there is bone pressure against the skin.
  2. Soft corns: These corns are whitish or gray and have a softer, with a rubbery texture. Soft corns appear between the toes, in areas of moist and sweaty skin.
  3. Seed corns: These corns are small and usually form on the bottom of feet and is usually not painful.

What is a callus?

A callus is a section of skin that thickens because of friction pressure or irritation, are hard and thick patches of skin.

Compared with corns, calluses are larger and have a more irregular shape. They often happen on the feet, they typically form over the bony area just under the toes but can also occur on the hands, elbows, or knees.

They usually do not cause much discomfort. However, a callus on the foot may become painful when a person puts pressure on it while walking in shoes, and this causes the skin under this bone to thicken.


Corns and calluses treatment


Most corns and calluses gradually disappear when the friction or pressure that causes them stops. 

However, if you're not sure what are causing corns and calluses, if the callus is very painful, or if you have diabetes, see a board-certified dermatologist.

To treat corns and calluses, dermatologists recommend the following tips:


1. Soak the affected area in water

Soak the affected area in warm water. Do this for five to 10 minutes or until the skin softens.

2. Scrub the affected area with a coarse sponge

Scrub the affected area with a sponge, available in pharmacies. Dip a pumice stone first in warm water and then use the stone to gently file off a corn or callus.

Use circular or sideways motions to remove dead skin. Be careful not to take off too much skin. Doing so may cause bleeding and infection.

3. Apply an ointment or cream to moisturize

Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream to the area daily. Look for a moisturizing lotion or cream with salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea.

These ingredients will help soften hard calluses and calluses gradually.

4. Use padding to protect the affected area

To protect the nails from further irritation during activity, cut a piece of mole skin, available at your local drugstore, into two half-moon shapes and place it around the nail.

To prevent the area from coming into contact with your shoes, surround the area with cake-shaped adhesive bandages, also available at drugstores.

5. Wear appropriate shoes

A common cause of calluses is a shoe that is not the right size and shape for your foot. To get the right fit, your feet may swell a little. 

In addition, ask an employee to measure your foot and choose shoes that are not baggy or tight.

6. Keep your nails trimmed

Toenails that are too long can force the toes to push against your shoes, causing corns to form over time. To remove this pressure, keep your nails trimmed.



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