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Corns and Calluses on Your Feet? What to Do

By HERWriter
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feet-with-calluses-and-corns iStockphoto/Thinkstock

My mom used to wear those super-high heels all the time when I was young. I remember seeing bumps on the curved part of her toes and when I asked her about them she told me they were corns from rubbing against her shoes.

Sometimes she would wear those “corn” pads that had the centers cut out and periodically she would go to the podiatrist.

What are corns and calluses?

Corns and calluses are thickened hard layers of skin that build up in response to pressure and friction. Corns develop on the tops of your toes when they rub against shoes that are too tight or narrow. Calluses can develop anywhere on the feet but also on hands and fingers.

According to WebMD, corns and calluses do not need treatment unless they become painful, but it makes more sense to avoid conditions that may allow them to form in the first place.

Corns and calluses often develop due to ill-fitting shoes that either compress the foot, like those lovely heels my mom wore, or if shoes are too loose the foot is allowed to move around too much. Even a poorly placed or overly-thickened seam in the shoe can cause rubbing.

Another cause of corns and calluses is not wearing socks so that there is more friction against the foot in the shoe. Conversely, wearing socks that don’t fit well can cause the same problem.

What to do:

First, ditch those shoes you know are causing you problems. Instead, wear shoes that are wider in the toe box and fit comfortably. You need to be able to wiggle your toes and not feel any seams rubbing.

You can try some of the over-the-counter pad products such as mole skin or other protective foot pads and see if the area resolves on its own.

If there is no improvement, make an appointment with a podiatrist to make sure that there isn’t another condition such as a cyst, a wart or other infection occurring. The podiatrist will then help decide how best to proceed.

It is especially important to consult a doctor if you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or circulatory problems.

If the corn/callus area has become large and thickened, the doctor may decide to trim it using a scalpel. Do not try this yourself at home to prevent any risk of infection.

The doctor may suggest using special pads with salicylic acid, which acts to dissolve the thickened skin. This can be purchased in the drug store without a prescription.

In between applications, he may want you to soak your feet in a bath, then use a pumice stone to rub off the dead skin to thin the callus or corn.

Topical antibiotics may be used as well. It is unlikely that surgery will be suggested to remove the thickened skin areas.

If the podiatrist feels that your corns and calluses are related to your foot biomechanics, he may suggest off-the-shelf or prescription orthotics to provide more support to your feet when walking.

There is a saying, “When your feet hurt, everything hurts.” Take special care of your feet so they don’t get in the way of enjoying the activities you love to do.


Corns and calluses. Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved Mar. 25, 2012.

Calluses and Corns - Treatment Overview. WebMD. Retrieved Mar. 25, 2012.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.