Corns and callosity are areas of hard, thickened skin that develops as a protective response to skin that is exposed to excessive pressure or friction.

They are a common foot problem which can be unsightly and can cause discomfort when wearing footwear and on weight bearing.

Removal and preventative measures can therefore quickly improve appearance, reduce pain and improve mobility – don’t suffer, see a registered podiatrist for advice and treatment.



Corns are small circles of thickened skin that usually develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot.  They have a central core which can cause pain if pressing on a nerve. People often report corns on the bottom of the foot like walking on a pebble and removal can give instant relief with that frequently described ‘walking on air’ feeling.

Corns Can Be Caused By: 

  • footwear – shoes that are too tight place excessive pressure on the skin and shoes that are too loose can allow your foot to slide and rub
  • bony feet – due to lack of natural cushioning
  • abnormal foot structure – such as a bunion or hammer toe



Calluses are hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour. They can develop anywhere on the foot but usually around the heel area, balls of the feet and side of the big toe.

A callused area can be larger than corns and they don’t have such a well-defined edge. As callused skin is thick it is often less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin, but can become painful if the skin cracks causing a fissure.  The site of the callus can give an indication to the cause.

Callus Can Be Caused By:

  • foot structure
  • skin rubbing against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground.
  • activities that put repeated pressure on the foot, such as running or walking barefoot. Athletes are particularly susceptible to them.
  • dry skin
  • reduced fatty padding – elderly people have less fatty tissue in their skin
  • some people have a natural tendency to form callus due to their skin type


Treating Corns & Callosity

The skin can become thicker and more painful over time and will generally not get better unless the cause of the pressure is removed. They are often a symptom of an underlying problem and should only be self-treated after a podiatrist has identified the cause and advised you about management.

Over-the-counter treatments (such as corn plasters) are available to buy, but as they do not treat the cause of the corn they are likely to return.  Also, they contain acids they can burn the normal thinner skin surrounding the corn which can lead to serious problems such as infection.

Corn plasters are not advised for certain people, such as those with diabetes, circulation problems or fragile skin.

A podiatrist can remove corns and calluses using a sharp blade and/or gentle sanding. This is painlessly done and should reduce pain and discomfort.


A podiatrist will also provide advice on self-care and may prescribe padding or insoles to redistribute pressure.


You can also help prevent corns and calluses by looking after your feet:

  • After washing dry your feet thoroughly – if you find your feet difficult to reach you can try using a hairdryer or rolled kitchen towel to slide between your toes.
  • Apply an emollient cream that contains urea or glycerin (not cosmetic moisturisers/body lotion). These help to reduce water loss from your skin, reduce dryness and keep your skin supple. They help maintain your skin’s natural protective barrier and also help to break down the hard skin.
  • Use a pumice stone or foot file regularly to gently remove hard skin.
  • Wear comfortable footwear that fits properly. Always shop for shoes in the afternoon, because your feet swell as the day goes on. You should be able to move your toes inside the shoe with a small gap between the front of the shoe and your longest toe. If possible, avoid wearing heels as they increase the pressure on the front of your feet.
  • Don’t put up with foot pain as if it is normal. Either see a podiatrist directly or go to your GP, who may refer you to a podiatrist. They will be able to investigate the underlying cause of your foot pain.