Corns and Callus

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What causes corns and callus?

Corns and calluses are thickened layers of skin that develop due to increased friction and pressure. Overtime the body tries to protect the deeper structures of the foot from this excess pressure which form a corn or callus.  Even though this is the bodies protective mechanism,  overtime these layers of skin can become painful.

In some cases, without any treatment, we can see the deeper layers of the skin breakdown, and ultimately ulcerate. This is extremely problematic in our high risk populations, for example, someone who is diabetic.

Corns: A thickened plaque of skin that runs deeper into the foot.

Calluses:  Layers of skin.  The more layers the more painful or uncomfortable.

The pressure and friction that causes either a corn or callus include:


  • Improper footwear – narrow shoes which can create rubbing and friction over the toes.
  • Barefoot walking – prolonged barefoot walking can lead to these callus and corns forming as protection.
  • Biomechanics – we can be loading a part of the foot too much which then the body builds extra skin aiming to protect our feet.

What can I do to help the pain and also prevention?


Ensure your footwear is an adequate fit, making sure there is no rubbing on the sides of the feet, as well as on the top of the toes.

Short term fix

Seeing a podiatrist is important because we can use a quick, painless method to remove corns and calluses. Note: Do not try to remove corns and calluses at home! This can be dangerous and cause more problems such as infections and ulcers.

Looking at your biomechanics

Long term fix? Assessing our biomechanics and walking is an integral part of treatment. We can design a custom orthotic to offload these sites on the foot where excess pressure is being placed. What this will do is slow the build up of skin forming again and in most cases completely resolve the problem!

Improving the skin integrity

Making sure our skin is well hydrated and moisturised is important.  Using an emollient daily improves and restores our skin barrier. Sometimes, a general moisturiser is sufficient, however depending on your condition you may need something stronger. Have a chat to your podiatrist to see what is best for you.

Click here to see how to apply Heel Balm