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Corns & Callus

What is a Corn?

A corn is a small, tender area of hard or thickened skin that occurs over a pressure area, or boney prominences, most commonly found on the top or side of a toe, but softer corns tend to form between the toes. It presents itself as a defined circle and following repeated pressure, the hard skin can form an inverted cone shape. They can be painful when pressed. If the pressure is not relieved, the hard skin can press on the softer skin below and cause a wound.

What is Callus?

Callus presents itself on an area of skin which experiences repeat irritation or pressure. It forms as a rough, thickened area of skin, most commonly around the bottom of the forefoot or heel. Whilst rarely painful, they can vary in size and shape. When walking, the skin on the sole of the foot responds to pressure & toughens up to protect the underlying tissues. Over time, the skin can build up, becoming too thick, causing problems. The buildup up of thickened skin can often appear discoloured with a slight yellow tinge.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of corns and calluses include a thick, rough area of skin, hardened, raised bumps, tenderness, or pain under the skin or flaky, dry, and waxy skin.


Corns and Calluses are often generated by constant friction and pressure, initially as protecting mechanisms. Some sources of this friction and pressure can be generated by wearing ill-fitting and tight shoes and/or socks. Alternatively, the lack of wearing socks with shoes and sandals can cause friction on your feet.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can develop corns if there is constant bone pressure to the skin, just like calluses can develop where there is repeated friction in an area.

There are minimal risks involved with corns and calluses, however if you have diabetes or another conditions that causes poor blood flow or poor sensation detection, especially to your feet, you may be at greater risk of complication from corns and calluses. These complications include irritation, infection, or ulcerations of the skin.


There are plenty of Self-Help measures you can take to avoid corns and callus such as wearing correctly fitted and thick cushioned shoes and socks. You may like to soak the areas in warm water to soften them and regularly use a pumice stone or foot file to remove the hard skin.

We also recommend using emollient daily before bed to keep the skin soft.

At Highcliffe Foot Clinic, we frequently treat corns and callus by removing the hard skin, applying a urea based emollient to the area and assessing foot posture and footwear to find out the best way to offload the pressure, i.e. cushioning orthotics or insoles, toe separating devices, additional padding. We also offer advice on general foot care and have various recommended creams and emery boards which can be purchased in store to keep the skin soft.

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