Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are two of the most common foot complaints

Corns and calluses are caused by abnormal pressure or friction from poor fitting footwear or abnormal foot function.

When there is excessive tissue stress exerted on skin, the body’s natural protection mechanism is to build up hard layers of skin to protect the underlying tissues. The skin continues to thicken and harden as the pressure continues and eventually the area will become painful.

A corn or callus is a symptom of an underlying cause that needs to be assessed by a podiatrist


Calluses are a diffused thickening of the skin over bony prominences or around the boarder of the heels. They are often painless but may also throb or burn. Especially in the summer, when the skin is dry from not wearing shoes, it is common for calluses to crack (fissure) especially around the heels and under the ball of the foot. Fissures can lead to infection and are often extremely painful.


There are two main types of corns:

Hard corns (digital corns) which are concentrated areas of dry and hardened skin. They are often found over the joints of the toes as a result of pressure from poorly fitting footwear.

Soft corns which are white and rubbery and generally develop between the toes.

Infection and ulceration of corns may occur and is a serious complication for people with diabetes, insensitive feet or with poor circulation.

Causes of corns and calluses

  • Poorly fitting footwear that is too tight across the toe box or too hard underfoot.
  • Toe deformities, such as hammertoes, retracted toes or bunions
  • Bony prominences and diminished fibrofatty padding on the feet
  • Biomechanical or gait abnormalities

Prevention of corns and calluses

Corns and callus are easy to prevent - just take away the cause. That cause is excessive pressure. Correct fitting of footwear around the toes, the use of pads to relieve pressure, surgical management of a bony prominence and regular podiatric care are the best options for prevention of corns and calluses.

Treatment of corns and calluses

  • Never try to cut out a corn yourself, and don’t use corn paint or plasters as these chemicals can be dangerous (especially for diabetics or those with poor circulation)
  • There are other things you can do to help relieve pain:
    • Use a pumice stone or a foot file to rub away the thickened skin, do this carefully and gently (but not if you’re a diabetic) after you have soaked your foot in warm water to soften the skin.
    • Wear shoes with a wide toe box and a low heel.
    • Purchase cushioned insoles for your shoes.

Make an appointment to see a podiatrist

Podiatry management of corns and callus includes a proper assessment to determine the cause of the corn or callus and an implementation of a management plan.

A management plan is likely to take into account several options:

  • Regular maintenance to keep the corn and callus reduced.
  • Padding to prevent pressure causing the corn or callus to form.
  • Footwear advice.
  • Foot orthotics to relieve areas of pressure under the foot
  • Surgical correction of a bony prominence that is causing areas of high pressure.

Formthotics can help relieve the symptoms of corns and callus

Formthotics relieve the pain for corns and callus by dissipating the forces on the feet during activity.

Formthotics™ are an ideal base to relieve areas of pressure under the foot and dissipate weight-bearing forces over a larger surface area. Formthotics also assist in providing optimal foot alignment to improve foot function during activity.

A variety of Formthotics options enable your podiatrist to select Formthotics best for your feet, footwear and activity. Your Formthotics are then able to be customised by your podiatrist specifically for the needs of your feet.

For further information