What did the corn say to the callus?

I feel friction between us…

Corny, I know – but when it comes to calluses and corns, it’s all about friction…

So exactly what are corns and calluses?

Corns generally occur on the tops and sides of the toes. There are 3 types of corns:

  • A hard corn – which is a small patch of thickened, dead skin with a packed center.
  • A soft corn – which has a much thinner surface and usually occurs between the 4th and 5th toes.
  • A seed corn – which is a tiny, discreet corn that can be very tender if it’s on a weight-bearing part of the foot. Seed corns tend to occur on the bottom of the feet.

Calluses can develop on hands, feet, or anywhere there is repeated friction — even on a violinist’s chin! Like corns, calluses have several variants. The common callus usually occurs when there’s been a lot of rubbing against the hands or feet. A plantar callus is found on the bottom of the foot.

What Causes Corns and Calluses?

Friction. Anything that is going to cause friction within the shoe:

  • Abnormal gait
  • Foot deformities
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Not wearing socks

Abnormal pressure on certain parts of the foot can cause corns and calluses too – high heels being the worst offenders – they put too much excess pressure on the toes and ball of the foot and make women four times as likely as men to have corns, calluses and other foot problems.

How are corns and calluses treated?

Most corns and calluses will gradually disappear when the friction or pressure stops, although your podiatrist may remove excess dead skin from the top of a corn or callus to reduce the thickness. Properly positioned moleskin pads can help relieve pressure on a corn; and there are also special corn and callus removal liquids and plasters, usually containing salicylic acid, but these are not suitable for everyone.

If your corn or callus gets infected, oral antibiotics may be prescribed and any pus or liquid build-up may have to be drained through a small incision.

Plantar corns sometimes require surgical removal; and if a corn or callus recurrs in the same place, it may be caused by abnormal foot structure, abnormal gait or abnormal hip rotation, and orthopaedic shoe inserts or surgery may be prescribed to help correct the problem.

Prevention, though, is always better than cure, so…

  • Make sure your shoes fit properly
  • Wear socks with your shoes whenever you can
  • Avoid or at least limit the wearing of shoes with sharply pointed toes and high heels. Try to decrease heel height as much as possible.
  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest size
  • Check your shoe heels – worn heels increase any uneven pressure on the heel bone and can cause friction. If the soles or heels of your shoes tend to wear unevenly, come in and see us about corrective shoes or insoles.


If you have corns and calluses that keep recurring or just won’t go away – call Healthy Steps and make an appointment with one of our podiatrists in Auckland so that you can get to the root of your corny problem, and make it go away for good.