Painful Corns & Callouses

A callus (tyloma) is an area of skin that thickens after exposure to repetitive forces in order to protect the skin. A callus may not be painful. When it becomes painful, treatment is required.

When a callus develops a mass of dead cells in its center, it becomes a corn (heloma). Corns generally occur on the toes and balls of the feet. Calluses occur on the feet, hands, and any other part of the skin where friction is present.

Corns & Callouses

The most common foot lesions treated by podiatrists

Thickened layer of skin due to pressure and friction

  • Corn – thicker, more focal area, more common on the toes
  • Callus – diffuse thickening of the skin, more common under the ball of the foot


  • Tight footwear
  • Toe/bone deformities (bunions, hammertoes)
  • Biomechanical/gait abnormalities

Treatment for Corns and Callouses

Self-treatment is not recommended

  • Corn pads/topical solutions – contain acid that can erode normal skin, producing burns and/or ulcers
  • “Self-cutting” may also be dangerous and result in lacerations/infections
  • Patients are advised to use proper footwear and non-medicated padding

Podiatric care can include

  • Professional debridement/shaving of thickened tissues
  • Using padding and shoe inserts to off-load pressure
  • Surgical options

common skin and nail