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Corns and Calluses

Corns & Calluses

Corns are small circles of thickened skin which commonly appear on our toes or the sole of the foot. Calluses are hard, rough patches that often develop around the heel or over the ball of the foot.

What causes corns and calluses?

Both arise from excessive friction or pressure on the skin. Badly fitted shoes are often responsible. High-heeled shoes can squeeze the toes causing corns, while shoes that are too loose may slide and rub against the foot.

Actions that put repeated pressure on the foot - such as jogging or walking barefoot, are also to blame. When we walk or stand, our body weight is carried first on the heel and then on the ball of the foot. When this pressure becomes excessive, the skin starts to thicken to protect the underlying tissue causing a callus.

How are corns and calluses treated?


  • Remove pressure or friction from the affected area - for example by switching from high to flat shoes, or wearing gloves if you have calluses on your hands.
  • Have a chiropodist cut away thickened skin to relieve pressure on the underlying tissues.
  • Use a designated product such as special creams to rehydrate thick skin, protective corn plasters, soft-padding or foam insoles, foam wedges to relieve corns between the toes and silicone wedges that change the position of the toes or redistribute pressure.
  • Visit your GP if a corn weeps pus or liquid. It may be infected and require draining and a course of antibiotics.

Do not:

  • Attempt to cut out the corn or callus yourself.

Alternative Remedies & Self-help

  • Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove hard skin.
  • Wash your feet nightly with soap, water and a scrubbing brush. Dry them thoroughly and apply a moisturising foot cream to soothe cracks.
  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable, flat shoes. Our feet swell throughout the day, so shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest.
  • See a chiropodist for a foot MOT every six months if possible.
  • Change your socks and tights daily to keep feet fresh.