Corns, callouses and soft corns



Corns and callouses are thick, hardened areas of skin caused by excessive pressure or friction on the feet. When these areas occur on the soles of the feet, they’re called callouses. When they happen on the top of the toes, they’re called corns.

Causes and symptoms

Corns are often caused by a hammertoe, an abnormal bend in the joints of one or more toes. Small corns on the little toe are usually caused by bony projections (spurs) that form on the edges of a bone. Bone spurs can also cause corns between the toes.

Soft corns are areas of white moist skin between the toes — usually the fourth and fifth toes. These can be very painful. If not treated, they can lead to sores that get infected. Soft corns are caused by an irregular shape of the bone in the fourth or fifth toes.

If you have diabetes or poor blood flow to the feet, these areas can break down. This can lead to sores or ulcerations that can become infected. See your doctor instead of trying home remedies.


There are many over-the-counter treatments for corns and callouses. Some contain acid, which burns off the thick area of skin, so be careful when using them. Note that these types of remedies are temporary because they don’t treat the source of the problem.

Options for treating callouses:

  • Wearing prescription shoe inserts (orthotics), which correct how weight is distributed to the feet
  • Doing surgery to properly align the bones in the foot that are causing problems
  • Cutting out the callous is not advised

Options for treating corns:

  • If the corn is due to a hammertoe, a surgeon will correct the abnormal bend in the toe joint.
  • If the corn is due to a bone spur, the surgeon will remove the spur.

Options for treating soft corns:

  • Cushioning the areas between the toes with cotton or foam
  • Using antibiotic ointment to help avoid an infection (never use over-the-counter corn removers in this area)
  • Removing the bone that caused the corn to develop
  • Trimming and padding the area by a doctor  

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