Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. They most often develop on the feet and toes or hands and fingers. Corns and calluses can be unsightly.

If you're healthy, you need treatment for corns and calluses only if they cause discomfort. For most people, simply eliminating the source of friction or pressure makes corns and calluses disappear.

If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you're at greater risk of complications from corns and calluses. Seek your doctor's advice on proper care for corns and calluses if you have such a condition.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

You may have a corn or callus if you notice:

  • A thick, rough area of skin
  • A hardened, raised bump
  • Tenderness or pain under your skin
  • Flaky, dry or waxy skin

Corns and calluses are not the same thing.

  • Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin. Corns tend to develop on parts of your feet that don't bear weight, such as the tops and sides of your toes and even between your toes. They can also be found in weight-bearing areas. Corns can be painful when pressed.
  • Calluses are rarely painful. They usually develop on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls, on your palms, or on your knees. Calluses vary in size and shape and are often larger than corns.

When to see a doctor

If a corn or callus becomes very painful or inflamed, see your doctor. If you have diabetes or poor blood flow, call your doctor before self-treating a corn or callus because even a minor injury to your foot can lead to an infected open sore (ulcer).

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