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Foot Problems: Corns & Calluses

A corn or callus is a thickening of the outer layer of the skin on your foot. Corns usually grow on the top of the foot, often at a toe joint. Calluses a) spread on the bottom of the foot, b) on the outer edge of a toe c) on the heel. Corns and calluses are your body's response to friction or pressure against the skin.

  • If your foot rubs inside your shoe, the affected area thickens.
  • If a bone is not in the normal position, skin caught between the bone and shoe or bone and ground builds up.

In either case, the outer layer of the skin thickens to protect the foot from unusual pressure. In many cases corns and calluses look bad but are not harmful. However, more severe corns and calluses can become infected, destroy healthy tissue, or affect foot movement. Corns and calluses can be controlled with help from one of our podiatric physicians here at Foot and Ankle Specialists.

Corns can range from a slight thickening of the skin to a painful, hard bump.

  • Corns often form at the top of buckled toe joints (hammer toes).
  • If your toes curl under, corns may grow on the tips of the toes.
  • A corn can form on the end of the toe if it rubs against your shoes.
  • Corns can grow between the toes, often between the first and second toes.

A callus may spread across the ball of your foot.

  • This type of callus is usually due to a problem with a metatarsal (the long bone at the base of a toe, near the ball of the foot).
  • A pinch callus may grow along the outer edge of the heel or the big toe.
  • Some calluses press up into the foot instead of spreading on the outside.
  • A callus may form a central core or plug of tissue where pressure is greatest.


Many times corns and calluses may be treated simply by having one of our podiatric physicians periodically debride the thickened tissue and apply special padding to alleviate the pressure. Orthotics can also be customized to relieve the pressure on the ball of the foot. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the hammertoe or metatarsal causing the corn or callus.