The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

What Can I Do About Corns and Calluses?

Posted by on Monday, May 27th, 2013


Feet endure a lot of wear and tear over the course of a day. Corns and calluses are two of the more common foot problems seen. About 19% of the U.S. population has 1.4 foot problems each year, with 5% of the population enduring corns and calluses, reports the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association. A podiatrist will treat corns and calluses 82% of the time, with a small percentage of people speaking with a primary care physician about the matter.

What Are Corns and Calluses?

“A corn is a protective layer of dead skin cells that forms due to repeated friction,” according to the NY Times health guide. Corns are most commonly found on the toes. They may be soft or hard, depending on how moist they are. While not a serious injury, corns can be extremely painful if they put pressure on a nerve.

Calluses are also composed of hardened protective skin, but calluses are found on the ball or heel of the foot. The skin here is ordinarily 40 times thicker than the skin elsewhere on the body, but a callus can be twice as thick! Calluses that become too hard may wear away at the underlying skin, causing the foot pad to thin over time. People with diabetes are much more likely to develop ulcers if they have calluses, so it is a condition to watch for.

Should I See A Doctor About Corns and Calluses?

“If the corn or callus isn’t bothering you, it can probably be left alone,” says the American Podiatric Medical Association. However, they do say it’s a good idea to buy new shoes and/or add padding to avoid further injury to your feet. You may also soak the feet and gently rub away at the dead skin with a pumice stone in the shower.


Some people find that corns and calluses inhibit their normal activities and cause tremendous pain. In that case, it’s best to see a podiatrist. Diabetics and people with poor foot circulation should always visit a podiatrist to have corns and calluses treated right away.

Advanced treatments for corns and calluses may include shaving away the thickened, dead skin with a surgical blade in the podiatrist’s office. This procedure is painless because the skin is already dead. In rare cases, cortisone injections can be used to treat severe pain and surgery may be necessary for recurrent, painful corns and calluses that do not respond to other treatments.

Preventing Corns and Calluses

When it comes to these common foot maladies, prevention truly is the best cure. Wearing properly fitting shoes is essential. A podiatrist can help you discover what  type of shoe that might be. In cases where a shoe is too big or too small, there are inexpensive, corrective gel pad inserts that can be purchased and fitted into the shoe for added comfort. Sometimes a shoe cobbler can stretch the shoe in an area where you suffer repeated corns. Another over-the-counter product we recommend are doughnut-shaped gel pads that fit over a corn to decrease pressure and friction. Applying lanolin cream, petroleum jelly or exfoliating foot cream can soften a hardened corn that is causing you pain. It’s also important to wear thick, pressure-absorbing socks and avoid wearing tight socks or stockings.



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.