Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. They most often develop on the feet and toes or hands and fingers. Corns and calluses can be unsightly.
If you’re healthy, you need treatment for corns and calluses only if they cause discomfort. For most people, simply eliminating the source of friction or pressure makes corns and calluses disappear.
However, if you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation to your feet, you’re at greater risk of complications from corns and calluses. Seek your doctor’s advice on proper care for corns and calluses if you have one of these conditions.
Symptoms of Corn and Callus:
You may have a corn or callus if you notice:
- A thick, rough area of skin
- A hardened, raised bump
- Tenderness or pain under your skin
- Flaky, dry or waxy skin
Corns and calluses are often confused, but they’re not the same thing:
- Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin. Corns tend to develop on parts of your feet that don’t bear weight, such as the tops and sides of your toes, though they can also be found in weight-bearing areas. Corns can even develop between your toes. Corns can be painful when pressed.
- Calluses usually develop on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls, on your palms, or on your knees. Calluses are rarely painful and vary in size and shape, though they’re often larger than corns.
When to see a doctor
If a corn or callus becomes very painful or inflamed, see your doctor. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, call your doctor before self-treating corns or calluses because even a relatively minor injury to your foot could lead to an infected open sore (foot ulcer) that’s difficult to heal.
Pressure and friction from repetitive actions cause corns and calluses to develop and grow. Some causes include:
- Ill-fitting shoes. When shoes are too tight or have high heels, they compress areas of your foot. When they’re too loose, your foot may repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. Your foot may also rub against a poorly placed seam or stitch inside the shoe.
- Skipping socks. Wearing shoes and sandals without socks can lead to friction on your feet. Socks that don’t fit properly also can be a problem.
- Using hand tools. Calluses on your hands may result from the repeated pressure of using tools on the job, around the house or in the garden.
These factors may increase your risk of corns and calluses:
- Bunions, hammertoe or other foot deformities. A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. A hammertoe is a toe deformity in which your toe becomes curled up like a claw. These conditions and other foot deformities, such as a bone spur, can cause constant rubbing inside your shoe.
- Not protecting your hands. Using hand tools without wearing gloves exposes your skin to excessive friction