The word 'corn' comes from the Latin word 'cornu' meaning 'horn'.Hard corns are small patches of hard, dead skin which build up layer upon layer. They have a central core which is shaped rather like a cone. The flat end of the cone forms the surface of the corn and the pointed end protrudes down into the foot often causing pain. They usually appear on the tops of the toes, sides of the little toes or insides of the feet.Soft corns appear between the toes. Unlike hard corns they remain white and soft because they are kept moist by sweat produced between the toes.


The word 'callus' also comes from Latin and means 'hardened skin'. A callus may also be referred to as a 'callous' or 'callosity'.Calluses are patches of hard skin which appear after repeated friction. They commonly appear on the hands, on the ball of the foot, on the side of the big toe or around the edge of the heel. If many layers of hard skin build up then calluses can cause a burning sensation or can become painful.


Corns are formed as a result of friction or pressure usually caused by ill-fitting shoes.Calluses are formed as a result of friction or pressure. Friction or pressure can be caused by skin rubbing against bone, ill-fitting shoes or against the floor when walking. Calluses can also develop on the hands as a result of hard manual work. The body tries to protect itself against injury by allowing skin to build up and become hard.More women suffer from corns and calluses than men, possibly due to the type of shoes women wear. They are also more common in the elderly.

Avoiding Corns & Calluses

Wear well fitting shoes.Avoid repetitive actions involving friction against the skin.


After bathing, use a pumice stone or file to remove any dead skin. Moisturise your feet to help keep them soft.Try cushioning your feet to help ease pressure, relieve pain and to prevent further build up of hard skin. You can buy cushioning products from most pharmacies.You can also use medicated products containing salicylic acid to treat corns and calluses. They can be bought from most pharmacies in the form of cream, paint, liquid, gel, plasters or pads. Between each application, remove any dead skin using a pumice stone or file. Be careful not to apply the treatment to normal skin as this can cause damage.

When To See A Doctor Or Chiropodist

Make an appointment to see your doctor or chiropodist if you are in pain or if you develop any signs of infection such as redness or pus.If you suffer from diabetes, gout or circulation problems you should always consult a doctor or chiropodist if you develop any problems with your feet or legs.

Additional Information

Leaflets about verrucas and warts and are also available from this pharmacy.

For additional information about corns and calluses, contact The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists (SCP), 53 Welbeck Street, London W1M 7HE. Tel: 0171 486 3381. Fax: 0171 935 6359. Website address: