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Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses are unsightly, irritating, and (especially corns) produce a lot of discomfort if not properly cared for, but all is not lost. With the following information you will be able to understand the differences between Corns and Calluses and how they can best be treated, cared for, or avoided.

Corns and calluses are both a thickening of the outer layer of skin. This thickening is known medically as hyperkeratosis. Corns and calluses develop as part of the skin’s normal defense against prolonged rubbing, pressure and other forms of local irritation.


A callus can develop anywhere on the body where there is regular or prolonged pressure of friction, providing a protective pad against injury. Calluses are extensive patches of toughened skin that can occur on any part of the body, especially the feet, hands and knees since, that part of the body that absorbs the most friction on a daily basis.

However, manual labourers and athletes (such as tennis players) often develop calluses on their hands, desk workers get them from resting on their elbows and guitarists have them on their fingertips. Even pushing a pen may create a "writer’s" lump where the pen presses into the finger. Calluses are not usually painful, although they do blemish the skin.


A thick callus on a toe is known as a corn, and it has a hard kernel formed in the centre. Because it often presses on the nerves below, a corn can be painful. You can use corn-removing plasters, which are available from pharmacies, to remove a corn. They consist of a foam circle with salicylic acid in the centre, which eats away the plug of dead skin. Or you can visit a chiropodist who will carefully pare away the thickened layers of skin with a scalpel. Remember that for a complete cure you must remove the pressure that caused the corn in the first place. Make sure that your shoes fit properly.

Corns and calluses can be a long-term problem if you consistently wear shoes that do not fit properly. Even with good footwear, you may continue to have painful corns and calluses if there is some underlying abnormality in your gait or foot structure that causes unusual stress on parts of your feet when you walk.