What are Foot Corns? Causes, Treatment & Prevention Tips

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Foot Corns – what are they, and what causes them?

Firstly, foot corns are not rare. When it comes to our feet, none of us like the idea of hard and thickened skin. Everyone prefers putting their best foot forward, with that foot being healthy, soft, and pain-free. Unfortunately, almost all of us develop foot ailments during our lives. Although most of them pass quickly, they can cause irritation, discomfort, and embarrassment. Among these ailments that we might encounter as we walk through life are corns. Corns are hard and thickened areas of skin that most often occur on the feet. Although they are very similar to a callus, they are usually harder, smaller, and more painful.

Even though corns aren’t life-threatening or dangerous, but they can cause significant irritation. There are three types of corns which are hard, soft, and seed corns.

The most common type of foot corn is a hard corn. A hard corn is a small, concentrated area of hard skin, most often found within a wider area of thickened skin. A soft corn is white or gray, and it is rubbery in texture. Hard and soft corns usually appear between the toes. On the other hand, seed corns are usually found on the bottom of the feet, and they are small. Corns can become very painful as they thicken. If you experience any of the following symptoms on your feet, you may have foot corns:

a patch of bumpy skin that appears to be rough, tough, and yellowing
sensitive skin
discomfort and pain when you are wearing shoes

Not only can foot corns can be safely treated, but you can also even prevent future foot corns. Contrary to popular belief, corns aren’t a skin disease but your body’s response to pressure or friction on the skin.
What causes a foot corn?

When your foot experiences pressure and friction from repetitive actions, it could cause corns and calluses to develop and grow over time. This pressure and friction could be caused by these factors:

Shoes that don’t fit well. Women tend to struggle with foot corns more than men, and the reason could be the shoes that women prefer. Shoes that are too tight and put your feet in an unnatural position, like high heels, can compress areas of your feet. On the other hand, when your footwear is too loose, your foot may continuously slide and rub against your shoe. If your foot is also rubbing repeatedly against a seam or stitch inside your shoe, it could result in foot corns.
Going without socks. Your feet can be exposed to a lot of friction if you wear shoes and sandals without socks. However, if you wear socks that don’t fit properly, it can cause a friction issue, too.
People could develop an abnormal, bony bump on the joint at the base of their big toe. Since bunions alter how the shoes fit, they could lead to foot corns.
Hammertoe. A hammertoe is a bend in the middle joint of a toe, and similarly to bunions, it can affect how your shoes fit your feet.
Other foot issues. Some conditions, such as a bone spur, might result in constant rubbing inside your shoe.

Preventing foot corns

There are approaches you can take that may help you prevent corns. They include:

Invest in suitable quality footwear that fits well. If you are trying out a new pair of shoes and can’t wiggle your toes, your shoes are too tight.
Protective coverings might offer relief. To lessen friction, wear felt pads, non-medicated corn pads, or bandages over areas that rub against your footwear. Toe separators can also help if you are inclined to get foot corns between your toes.

Diagnosing and treating foot corns

A podiatrist will examine your feet to rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts. An x-ray might be recommended if your podiatrist suspects a physical abnormality is causing the corn.

The first step to treating corns is to avoid the repetitive actions that caused them to develop. Therefore, if you have foot corns, you can help resolve them by wearing well-fitting shoes, using protective pads, and taking other self-care measures.

If you have been continuously administering self-care efforts, and your corn persists or becomes even more painful, medical treatments may provide relief. These treatments could include:

Removing excess skin. A podiatrist could help you remove some thickened skin or trim a giant corn using a scalpel. It is essential to go to a podiatrist for this treatment and not try it yourself, resulting in an infection.
Trying shoe inserts. Your podiatrist may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts, also known as orthotics, to help prevent recurring corns.
In some rare circumstances, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to correct the alignment of a bone that is causing friction.

Lifestyle changes that might help prevent foot corns.

People who have diabetes or other conditions that might cause poor blood flow should always consult their podiatrist before treating a corn on their own. However, if you don’t have any underlying health problems, you can try these suggestions to help clear up a corn:

Apply foot pads for relief. If applied correctly, a pad can help protect the area where a corn has developed. People should be careful in using non-prescription, over-the-counter liquid corn removers or medicated corn pads. They can irritate healthy skin and lead to infection, especially in people with diabetes or other conditions that cause poor blood flow.
Soak your feet in warm soapy water. A gentle soak in water softens corns, making it easier to remove the thickened skin.
A pumice stone can be helpful in rubbing a corn during or after taking a bath to help remove a layer of thickened skin. Never use a sharp object to trim the skin. If you have diabetes, avoid this method.
Keep your skin moisturized. Applying moisturizer to your feet will help keep the skin soft.
Stick to comfortable shoes and socks that fit you well.


Although foot ailments can’t always be avoided, we can take good care of our feet to minimize them. A good foot-care routine is something that can help you keep your healthy feet firmly on the ground. Well Heeled recommend you utilising the below links to help you get the best out of your foot care from professionals.

About Me

Founder of Well Heeled - I have a great interest in diabetes and the effect on those diagnosed as well as those around them. With over 20 years in health and social care, as a qualified social worker and as a passionate educator within the health and social care sector, I wanted to bring further information to others around diabetes and other issues.

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