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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Calluses and Corns - Treatment Overview

Calluses or corns usually 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. Initial treatment generally involves things you can do at home. These include carefully choosing your footwear, using a pumice stone, and using over-the-counter (nonprescription) salicylic acid products.

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

Depending on the location of the callus or corn and on other conditions that you may have, such as diabetes, you have several treatment options. You can:

  • Have your doctor pare (trim) the callus or corn with a small knife. Your doctor can do this in his or her office.
  • Reduce the size of the callus or corn yourself 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.
  • Wear 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. Thicker soles can help relieve pressure on calluses when you are walking. For more information, see:
    Foot problems: Finding the right shoes.
  • Use protective padding such as moleskin or orthotic shoe inserts to cushion the callus or corn or to hold the foot and toes in a more comfortable position to prevent rubbing. Your doctor can help you position padding on your feet or in your shoes.
  • Use 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.
  • Use 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.1 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 treatment for soft corns does not work, the skin between the bases of the two toes can be sewn together (syndactylization). This creates a partial webbing where the soft corn had been. Another corn cannot form over this webbing.


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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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