Understanding the Differences between Calluses and Corns

Do you have a hard, thick patch of skin on your foot or toe? If so, you might wonder if it’s a callus or corn. At Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute in South Ogden, Utah, David B. Glover, DPM, FACFAS, and our podiatric team provide comprehensive foot care, and we can safely remove bothersome corns and calluses.

In this blog, Dr. Glover discusses the differences between calluses and corns.

Corns and calluses 101

Both calluses and corns are thickened areas of skin that develop as a result of repetitive stress or friction in a certain area. A corn, in fact, is a type of callus, and the primary difference between corns and calluses is the location and whether or not they cause pain.

Common causes include wearing poorly fitting shoes or not wearing socks. Some people may be more likely to develop corns and calluses than others, and your risk for developing both increases if you have:

When shoes and socks rub on areas of your feet over long periods of time, or your foot is subjected to abnormal pressure for other reasons, the outer layer of skin gets thicker to protect the skin underneath. 

Signs it’s a callus

A callus is an area of skin that’s thicker than surrounding skin, and it may appear lighter in color. Calluses generally feel hard and look flaky, dry, or waxy, and they usually develop on weight-bearing areas of the foot. Furthermore, they usually don’t cause pain or discomfort.

Calluses are very common on the soles of the feet, either near the ball of the foot or near the heel. Since they form with friction and pressure, calluses can appear elsewhere on your body, such as your fingers and palms.

Signs it’s a corn

Corns, unlike calluses, generally appear on parts of the foot that aren’t weight-bearing. You’re more likely to find a corn between your toes and on top of them. A corn located on the sole of the foot can occur when sweat ducts get blocked.

Corns can be hard or soft. They’re usually smaller than calluses, and they often have a distinct center surrounded by inflamed skin. Corns can cause pain, particularly when pressed.

Treating corns and calluses

Painless corns or calluses generally don’t pose health risks. However, if you have a large corn or callus, or if they cause pain, Dr. Glover may recommend removing it.

Dr. Glover can safely and painlessly remove corns and calluses at the office. You should never try to remove calluses or corns on your own, because doing so could lead to an infection. Once Dr. Glover removes your corn or callus, he’ll give you guidance on keeping the area as free as possible from friction. Among other options, he may recommend using padding, wearing different shoes, or applying a lotion daily.

Don’t ignore foot discomfort. If you have a problematic corn or callus, book an appointment online or over the phone with Mountain View Foot & Ankle Institute today.

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