Understanding the Difference Between Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are equally unsightly, so it’s understandable that you might confuse these thickened patches of skin that form on your toes or feet because of friction or pressure. 

Both are medically harmless, but may feel uncomfortable and irritating. Women tend to develop them more often than men, but they can develop in anyone who wears poorly fitting shoes or who stands for long amounts of time during the day. 

At Hoosier Foot & Ankle, we help people in Indianapolis get relief from existing corns and calluses and prevent them from developing more in the future. Here’s what our doctors want you to know about the difference between corns and calluses.

Features that corns and calluses share

Corns and calluses share many common features. Both describe a thick, rough area of skin, usually on the foot, but they can develop on the hands, too. You might notice pain or tenderness occurs in the skin underneath when you press on the tough skin. The outer skin of a corn or callus tends to be flaky, waxy, and dry.

Features unique to corns

Corns tend to be round and have a distinct, hard center that may be surrounded by inflamed skin. They’re usually small and develop on areas that don’t bear weight, like the tops or sides of your toes. They’re often more painful than calluses. 

Features unique to calluses

Calluses are usually larger than corns and develop in weight-bearing areas of your foot, like the heels or balls of your feet, your knees, or the palms of your hands. Calluses don’t usually cause pain. 

When to seek help for a corn or callus

If your corn or callus becomes extremely painful or looks angry and inflamed, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see the experienced podiatrists at Hoosier Foot & Ankle. 

People with diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow should also seek medical care for these seemingly minor conditions. Corns and calluses can lead to infection or a cut that can become quite serious in these populations.

How to treat a corn or callus at home

If you’re just mildly bothered by a corn or callus and have no underlying health conditions, you can probably successfully address your corn or callus at home.

We recommend regularly soaking your affected hands or feet to soften corns and calluses. You can then thin the thickened skin using a pumice stone, emery board, or washcloth. Only do this right after soaking. Never cut the skin with a sharp object. 

Use a good moisturizer to keep the areas of skin soft, and wear comfortable, well-fitting socks and shoes. 

Podiatric treatment for calluses and corns

If you have a painful corn or callus or an underlying health issue that makes these conditions dangerous to your feet, come see us at Hoosier Foot & Ankle. 

We offer help by trimming away excess skin using medical instruments in a sterile environment. We can also apply callus-removing medication.

You may benefit from custom-made orthotics that correct an underlying foot deformity that contributes to the development of your corns and calluses. 

If you have an unusual patch of skin or growth on your feet, contact one of the offices of Hoosier Foot & Ankle today. It could be a callus or corn, or possibly a bunion or other issue that deserves intervention. Call today, or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.

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