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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Calluses and Corns - Topic Overview

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How are they treated?

Calluses and corns do not need treatment unless they cause pain. If they do cause pain, you can ease the pain by:

  • Wearing shoes that fit well and are roomy, with wide and deep toe boxes (the area that surrounds the toes).
    • A wider toe box keeps the toes from pressing against each other, relieving pressure on soft corns.
    • A deeper toe box keeps the toes from pressing against the top of the shoe, relieving pressure on hard corns.
  • Using protective padding while your foot heals, such as:

Other things you can try include:

  • Reducing the size of the callus or corn by soaking your callus or corn in warm water and then using a pumice stone to lightly wear away the dead skin. Never cut the corn or callus yourself, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness.
  • Using salicylic acid to soften the callus or corn. You can then rub the callus or corn off with a pumice stone. Some doctors advise against using salicylic acid because it can damage surrounding skin. If you use salicylic acid, be sure to apply it only to the callus or corn and not to the surrounding skin. And never use salicylic acid if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness.
  • Having your doctor pare (trim) the callus or corn with a small knife. Your doctor can do this in his or her office.

If you keep having problems with calluses or corns, or your problem is severe, your doctor may have you see a foot specialist (a podiatrist). You may be fitted for orthotic inserts or metatarsal bar inserts for your shoes to distribute your weight more evenly over the ball of your foot. Athletes who run a lot may wear orthotic shoe inserts for the same purpose.

Surgery is rarely used to treat calluses or corns. But if a bone structure (such as a hammer toe or bunion) is causing a callus or corn, surgery can be used to change or remove the bone structure. This is used only if other treatment has failed.

If you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy, or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness, talk to your doctor before you try any treatment for calluses or corns.

How can calluses and corns be prevented?

Calluses and corns can be prevented by reducing or eliminating pressure on the skin.

Calluses on your hands usually can be prevented by wearing gloves to protect your hands, such as when gardening or lifting weights. Calluses on your feet can usually be prevented by wearing shoes and socks that fit well.

Corns on your feet can usually be prevented by wearing shoes that have a wider toe box. So can getting both feet measured by a shoe store clerk before buying a pair of shoes.

  • Wear shoes that fit well.
  • Wear gloves while using a tool such as a garden spade or rake. If you expose other parts of your body to friction, wear appropriate padding. For example, if you are on your knees laying carpet, wear knee pads.

The way you walk can be affected by the bones in your feet or even tight calf muscles. If so, a podiatrist may be able to help you make changes that can prevent foot problems like calluses and corns.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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