(212) 921-7900 Appointment

What is the difference between corns and calluses?

New York Magazine Logo Refinery20 Logo Insider Logo Bloomberg Logo Bustle Logo PopSugar. Logo PureWow Logo
New York Magazine Logo Refinery20 Logo Insider Logo Bloomberg Logo Bustle Logo PopSugar. Logo PureWow Logo New York Magazine Logo Refinery20 Logo Insider Logo Bloomberg Logo Bustle Logo PopSugar. Logo PureWow Logo
What’s The Difference Between Corns and Calluses? | Gotham Footcare

What are Calluses and Corns?
Corns and calluses refer to thickened areas of skin on the feet caused by repeated rubbing and pressure.

The Difference Between Corns and Calluses

Corns: Corns are usually small and round with a defined edge. They are typically located on the top or sides of the toes or on the soles. Corns can be hard, soft, or rubbery in texture.

Calluses: Calluses are a hard, thickened patch of skin. They generally appear on pressure points on the soles of feet. Unlike corns, calluses may have an irregular edge that is not always clearly defined. They tend to be flatter and more widespread than corns. Calluses often have a dry, tough, crusty appearance compared to the healthy skin surrounding them.

Identifying Corns on the Feet

  • Yellow appearance
  • Clearly defined border
  • Firm, soft, or rubbery texture
  • Raised or rounded appearance
  • Can be a source of pain or discomfort

Identifying Calluses on the Feet

  • Acute pain is uncommon
  • Yellow, white, or gray in color
  • May have a defined or irregular border
  • Appears on the heel, ball of the foot, sides of the foot, or under the big toe

How Do Calluses Form on Your Feet?
Repeated friction, pressure, and rubbing are responsible for most calluses. Over time, the pressure points of the foot soles show signs of wear and tear by forming calluses. This thickening of the skin is your body’s way of protecting your feet from excessive friction.

What Causes Corns and Calluses?
Ill-fitting shoes are the main reason corns and calluses form. Likewise, today’s fashionable footwear often lacks proper cushioning and sole support.

Shoe Quality: Inexpensive shoes are constructed without considering the anatomy of the foot, causing a subpar fit that leads to irritation. As a general rule, less expensive shoes offer less comfort and protection than premium footwear manufactured by a trusted name brand.

Type of Footwear: Regardless of cost, many styles of footwear are designed for fashion, not utility. High heels, pointed toes, flip flops, and dress shoes made from rigid materials such as patent leather are more likely to cause irritation compared to supportive athletic or orthotic shoes.

Level of Physical Activity: Running, walking, or standing for long periods of time increases friction and pressure on the feet, leading to foot irritations. Athletes and individuals with physically demanding careers are more prone to corns and calluses than those who spend less time on their feet. With that said, corns and calluses can happen to just about anyone.

Not Wearing Socks: Socks provide a layer of soft cushion. In combination with properly fitting, supportive footwear, socks may help prevent corns and calluses from developing in the first place.

Medical Conditions: Patients who have arthritis, bone spurs, bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities often have trouble finding shoes that fit well. When shoes fit poorly, it increases friction and pressure on certain areas, causing corns and callus formation.

Season: Corns and calluses can occur at any time of year. Calluses may occur more frequently in winter when there is less humidity in the air. This ultimately leads to further dryness of the skin, contributing to dead skin buildup and thickening of the callus. Seasonal changes may also affect your choice of footwear. For example, switching to flip flops or sandals in the summer leaves the feet exposed to the elements and omits the soft cushion provided by wearing socks.

Are They Painful?
Corns can be painless, although some corns can cause discomfort ranging from sharp pain to mild irritation. Calluses are generally painless. A thick callus, however, can cause discomfort that worsens over time. Fissures, or deep, painful cracks, sometimes occur when calluses are left untreated. Wearing shoes, walking, standing, and running can further exacerbate pain caused by corns and calluses.

Callus and Corn Treatment at Home
How to get rid of calluses and corns

The best way to treat corns and calluses is choosing well-fitting shoes that provide the proper cushion and support. Over-the-counter foot pads for corns and calluses act like a cushion to reduce friction. Calluses may be soaked in warm water and then gently filed down with a pumice stone. A thick foot cream can also alleviate dryness and further thickening of the skin.

Some home remedies, such as foot peels that promise to dissolve corns and calluses naturally, can be dangerous. There have been many reports of consumers accidentally burning their skin or developing deep fissures after using foot callus treatments that contain harsh chemical ingredients. Such treatments are best left in the hands of your podiatrist.

When to See a Podiatrist for Treatment
Corn removal and callus removal in NYC

Left untreated, corns and calluses can be a source of pain or infection. If home remedies haven’t improved your condition or you notice warmth, pain, pus, swelling, redness, fissures, or open wounds, call your podiatrist. At Gotham Footcare, our specialized Manhattan foot doctors can diagnose and treat corns and calluses without surgery. Patients who have structural foot deformities may benefit from foot surgery or custom orthotics that prevent corns and calluses in the first place.

Dr. Miguel Cunha New York Podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha, Board Certified Surgical Podiatrist, founder of Gotham Footcare, and leading podiatrist in Manhattan is a highly trained and skilled foot and ankle surgeon with experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions from minor problems to complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Cunha takes pride in having a genuine interest in each and every one of his patients while providing them the utmost compassion and exceptional care.

At Gotham Footcare in NYC, we strive at recognizing your individual needs and desired outcomes while formulating an effective and personalized treatment plan with the highest quality care available.

What sets Gotham Footcare apart from other podiatry offices is our dedication to providing you with the education you need to make well-informed decisions regarding your care. Regardless of what your foot and ankle trouble may be, at Gotham Footcare our team will work tirelessly to help you feel better. At Gotham Footcare, we help you put your best foot forward.