Corn, or Callus

General Illness Information

Common Name:

Corn or callus

Medical Term: Callosity


A thickening of the outermost skin layer, usually over bony areas such as toe joints (corn).

Painless thickening of skin caused by repeated pressure and irritation (callus). This commonly involves the skin on the hands, feet and knees


  • Corns and calluses form to protect a skin area form injury caused by repeated irritation (rubbing or squeezing);
  • Pressure causes cells in the irritated area to grow at a faster rate, leading to overgrowth, thickening of the skin, and finally a callus is formed.


  • Avoid activities that create constant pressure on specific skin areas;
  • Don’t wear shoes that fit poorly;
  • Where possible, wear protective gear, such as gloves or knee pads.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Corn: A small, tender, and painful raised bump on the side or over the joint of a toe. Corns are usually 4mm to 10mm in diameter and have a hard center;
  • Callus: A rough, thickened area of skin that appears after repeated pressure or irritation. The areas most commonly involved are feet, hands and knees. Calluses on the soles of the feet are the most troublesome.

Risk Factors

  • Ill-fitting shoes;
  • Those with occupations that involve pressure on the hands and knees, such as carpenters, writers, guitar players, or tile layers.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Clinical diagnosis.  No tests are necessary.

General Measures:

  • Remove the source of pressure, if possible.  Discard ill-fitting shoes;
  • Use corn and callus pads to reduce pressure on irritated areas;
  • Peel or rub the thickened area with a pumice stone to remove it. Don’t cut it with a razor, leave this to your doctor or foot care provider. Soak the area in warm water to soften it before peeling;
  • Ask the shoe repairman to sew a metatarsal bar onto your shoe to use while corn is healing;
  • Major surgery is rarely used. It does not remove the cause and post-surgical scarring is painful and may complicate healing.


After peeling the upper layers of the corn once or twice a day, apply a non-prescription 5% or 10% salicylic ointment. Cover with adhesive tape.


As tolerated.


No restrictions.

Possible Complications:

Back, hip, knee or ankle pain caused by a change in one’s gait due to severe discomfort.



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