Calluses and Corns

A callus on the foot is caused from repeated pressure and friction, leading to the build up of thickened skin. The callus, which may be hard, dry or cracked, acts to protect the area underneath it. A corn is similar to a callus but is smaller and appears on toes rather than on the sole of the foot.



Calluses are hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour. They can develop on your foot, most often around the heel area or on the skin under the ball of the foot. Calluses are larger than corns and do not have such a well-defined edge. As callused skin is thick, it is often less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin. Calluses develop when the skin rubs against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground. They often form over the ball of your foot because this area takes most of your weight when you walk. This is particularly the case when high heels are worn regularly or pressure on bony areas of the foot, badly fitting shoes, dry skin and reduced fatty padding.


Corns are often seen as small circles of thick skin that develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot, they are often caused by wearing shoes that fit poorly or certain designs that place excessive pressure on an area of the foot. However, they can occur anywhere. Sometime they occur on bony feet as there's a lack of natural cushioning. They can also develop as a symptom of another foot problem, such as:
  • A bunion – where the joint of the big toe sticks outwards as the big toe begins to point towards the other toes on the same foot
  • Hammer toe – where the toe is bent at the middle joint


    A callus or corn is typically diagnosed upon examination.


    Most corns and calluses are easily removed usually pain free however, If you have a corn or callus on your foot it will not get better unless the cause of the pressure is removed. If the cause is not removed, the skin could become thicker and more painful over time. At First Step Clinic our podiatrist will help with regular debridement (or shaving down the affected area) from becoming too painful or large and can make pads if needed. In severe cases calluses may require regular shaving to keep them from becoming too large.

    Without Treatment

    Larger calluses can cause significant pain. In some patients, especially when they become cracked, calluses can lead to wounds that can lead to serious problems, especially in people with diabetes.