The Difference Between Corns & Calluses


Corns and calluses can be particularly painful skin conditions that frequently affect the feet. These conditions occur as the body’s response to excessive pressure often caused by poorly fitting footwear.

What is the difference between calluses and corns?

Calluses—A callus is a thick section of skin that forms to protect the underlying skin from damage and infection. Calluses frequently occur on the heel and the ball of the foot and often appear underneath the big toe. While calluses do form as a protective barrier, sometimes they become cracked and painful in the form of heel fissures that can even lead to infection and amputation in extreme cases, especially for patients who have diabetes.

Corns—These tend to be smaller bumps that usually form when two or more toes rub up against each other or against the inside of your footwear, creating thick, inflamed tissue. Harder corns typically form on the bony parts of your toes, and softer corns usually occur between your toes. Corns often appear on the top of hammertoes.

Treatments for corns and calluses

Calluses and corns respond well to the release of the pressure that is causing them, so change to shoes that don’t rub on the affected area.

The following methods can help to isolate and heal corns and calluses:

Insulating pads—Applying foam or moleskin pads on the callus or corn will help to remove pressure and decrease friction. Over-the-counter salicylic acid applications may also be effective at reducing the size of corns.

Foot soaks—Soak your feet in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes, and then use a pumice stone to gently rub the dead skin from the affected area. Be sure to completely dry your feet and apply a moisturizing cream with tea tree oil to help kill bacteria.

Lotions and creams— Apply a strong moisturizing cream or lotion specifically made for your feet. Cover with breathable socks and allow the cream to soak in for several hours or overnight. Softened skin can then be more easily removed.

If you need help treating corns or calluses, we highly recommend that you consult our board- certified podiatrists Andrew Shapiro, DPM and Michael Barkin, DPM. With access to advanced technologies, along with years of experience to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, we can assist you with heel pain, ankle sprains, diabetic foot care, toe deformities, nail fungus, and skin problems, among many other conditions. Our practice is conveniently located on West Merrick Road in Valley Stream to accommodate all of your foot care needs. Call (516) 825-3860 or book an appointment online today!