Calluses and Corns - Topic Overview
What are calluses and corns?
Calluses and corns
are areas of thick, hardened, dead skin. They form to protect the skin and
structures under the skin from pressure, friction, and injury. They may appear
grayish or yellowish, be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin, and
feel bumpy. Calluses on the hands and feet of an active person are normal.
Calluses and corns become a problem when they grow
large enough to cause pain.
- Calluses generally form on the hands or feet,
although they may form wherever there is pressure on the skin, such as on the
knees or elbows.
- Calluses on the hands generally form at
the base of the fingers. They usually are not painful and may be useful. For
example, a carpenter might develop calluses that protect his or her hands from
scrapes and cuts while working. A tennis player might develop calluses on the
palm that protect his or her hand from the pressure and friction of handling a
- Calluses on the feet generally form on the ball of
the foot, the heel, and the underside of the big toe. They often form where the
foot and the beginning of the toe meet (under the end of the
- Corns generally are found where toes rub
together. Corns have an inner core that can be soft or hard. A soft corn is
found between toes (usually the fourth and fifth toes). A hard corn is
often found over a bony part of a toe (usually the fifth toe).
See pictures of
hard and soft corns.
What causes calluses and corns?
corns are caused over a period of time by repeated pressure or friction on an
area of skin. The pressure causes the skin to die and form a hard, protective
surface. A soft corn is formed in the same way, except that when perspiration
is trapped where the corn develops, the hard core softens. This generally
occurs between toes. Calluses and corns are not caused by a virus and are not
Repeated handling of an object that puts pressure on
the hand, such as tools (gardening hoe or hammer) or sports equipment (tennis
racquet), typically causes calluses on the hands.
corns on the feet are often caused by pressure from footwear.
- Tight shoes squeeze the
- High-heeled shoes squeeze the front part of the
- Loose shoes may cause your foot to slide and rub against the
- Shoes with a thin sole can create more pressure on the ball
of the foot when walking than do thicker-soled shoes.
sandals and shoes without socks can lead to increased friction.
foot may rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.
- Socks that
don't fit may result in pressure where a sock bunches up.