Corns and Calluses

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are thick layers of skin. They are caused by repeated pressure or friction at the spot where the corn or callus develops.

What are the alternative names for Corns and Calluses?

Calluses and corns

What are the causes for Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are caused by pressure or friction on skin. A corn is thickened skin on the top or side of a toe. Most of the time it is caused by bad-fitting shoes. A callus is thickened skin on your hands or the soles of your feet.

The thickening of the skin is a protective reaction. For example, farmers and rowers get calluses on their hands that prevent blisters from forming. People with bunions often develop a callus over the bunion because it rubs against the shoe.

Corns and calluses are not serious problems.

What are the symptoms for Corns and Calluses?

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin is thick and hardened.
  • Skin may be flaky and dry.
  • Hardened, thick skin areas are found on hands, feet, or other areas that may be rubbed or pressed.
  • The affected areas can be painful and may bleed.

What are the current treatments for Corns and Calluses?

Preventing friction is often the only treatment needed.

To treat corns:

  • If poor fitting shoes are causing the corn, changing to shoes with a better fit will help get rid of the problem most of the time.
  • Protect the corn with a doughnut-shaped corn pad while it is healing. You can buy these at most drug stores.

To treat calluses:

  • Calluses often occur due to excess pressure placed on the skin because of another problem such as bunions or hammertoes. Proper treatment of any underlying condition should prevent the calluses from returning.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands during activities that cause friction (such as gardening and weight lifting) to help prevent calluses.

If an infection or ulcer occurs in an area of a callus or corn, the tissue may need to be removed by a provider. You may need to take antibiotics.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are rarely serious. They should improve with proper treatment and not cause long-term problems.

What are the possible complications for Corns and Calluses?

Complications of corns and calluses are rare. People with diabetes are prone to ulcers and infections and should regularly examine their feet to identify any problems right away. Such foot injuries need medical attention.

When should I contact a medical professional for Corns and Calluses?

Check your feet carefully if you have diabetes or numbness in the feet or toes.

Otherwise, the problem should resolve with changing to better-fitting shoes or wearing gloves.

Call your provider if:

  • You have diabetes and notice problems with your feet.
  • You think your corn or callus is not getting better with treatment.
  • You have continued symptoms of pain, redness, warmth, or drainage from the area.


American Diabetes Association. Standard of medical care in diabetes-2019 abridged for primary care providers. Clin Diabetes. 2019;37(1):11-34. PMID: 30705493.

Murphy GA. Lesser toe abnormalities. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 83.

Smith ML. Environmental and sports-related skin diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 88.

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