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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Calluses and Corns - Topic Overview

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Walking barefoot also causes calluses.

Calluses and corns often form on the bumps caused by rheumatoid arthritis or on bunions or hammer, claw, or mallet toes. Calluses and corns on the feet may also be caused by repeated pressure due to sports (such as a callus on the bottom of a runner's foot), an odd way of walking (abnormal gait), or a bone structure, such as flat feet or bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along joints).

What are the symptoms?

You can tell you have a corn or callus by the way it looks. A callus is hard, dry, and thick, and it may appear grayish or yellowish. It may be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin, and it may feel bumpy. A hard corn is also firm and thick. It may have a soft yellow ring with a gray center. A soft corn looks like an open sore.

Calluses and corns often are not painful, but they can cause pain when you are walking or wearing shoes. And they may make it hard for your feet to fit in your shoes. Any type of pressure applied to the callus or corn, such as squeezing it, can also cause pain.

How are calluses and corns diagnosed?

Calluses and corns generally are diagnosed during a physical exam. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your work, your hobbies, or the types of shoes you wear. An X-ray of the foot may be done if your doctor suspects a problem with the bones.

How are they treated?

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.

Calluses and corns do not need treatment unless they cause pain. If they do cause pain, the treatment goal is to remove the pressure or friction that is causing the callus or corn, to give it time to heal. This is done by wearing footwear that fits properly and using doughnut-shaped pads (such as moleskin) or other protective paddingcamera.gif to cushion the callus or corn. Some other types of padding include toe separatorscamera.gif, toe crest padscamera.gif, and toe caps and toe sleevescamera.gif. Also, the callus or corn can be softened and the dead skin can be removed by using products such as salicylic acid.

Your doctor may use a small knife to pare (trim) the callus or corn. You may reduce the size of the callus or corn yourself by soaking your foot in warm water and then using a pumice stone to rub the dead skin away. Never cut the corn or callus yourself, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness. In some cases, surgery may be done to remove the callus or corn or to change the bone structure beneath the callus or corn.

How common are calluses and corns?

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 06, 2010
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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