Callouses and corns are hard layers of skin that develop in response to friction, pressure and shearing forces. Callouses tend to be larger than corns. They can vary in size and shape. They are not necessarily painful. We typically see callouses on the balls of the feet and the heels. Corns tend to be smaller with a hard centre and the surrounding skin can be inflamed. Corns tend to develop on the balls of the foot, toes and in-between toes.
Corns and callouses develop due to abnormal loading through the foot or by poorly fitting footwear. Corns that develop on the tops of the toes or in between toes are often caused by footwear rubbing against the toes. If a corn develops in-between the toes it is often caused by constrictive footwear.
There are a few different types of corns. A hard corn typically occurs on tops of the toes and on the ball of the foot. A soft corn absorbs moisture from perspiration and can look white and soggy in appearance. These can be very painful and more likely to become infected as the skin integrity is more compromised when it is soggy and macerated.
Podiatrists can pare down and remove callouses and corns painlessly. They will return however, if the friction/ pressure or shearing remains. You should never use ‘corn pads’ as these contain acid and may cause skin breakdowns and potential infections. You should not also cut away at the yourself – you are more likely to cause further tissue damage and infection through the use of non-sterilised equipment. Your podiatrist can also advise on appropriately fitting footwear and other treatment options such as orthotic therapy to offload any painful areas.