Corns and Calluses: Causes & Symptoms

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Corns and calluses are regions where the skin thickens due to constant friction. They don’t usually need treatment unless they are painful.

What are Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses develop on a part of our skin due to excessive friction or pressure, whether through running, walking, standing, or keeping our balance. The strain, weight and impacting forces result in the hard, thickened skin of a corn or a callus.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that corns and calluses are not the same. Corns are usually smaller than calluses and are essentially an area of inflamed skin surrounding a hard center. Corns often develop on unexpected parts of the feet, such as the areas between the toes or the top of the feet. They can be painful when you push on them. When sweat is trapped in the space where there is a corn, the hard center will soften.

Calluses are usually larger and can be found on the bottom of the feet, as well as the hands. They are usually not painful.

corn and callusCauses

The cause of corns and calluses is the dead skin that is caused by excessive pressure or friction. Calluses are actually helpful in many ways, as the layers of dead, hardened skin can protect the bottom of the foot from cuts and punctures, just as it does on the hands.

Some of the reasons they form are:

  • Repetitive use of tools or activities as the palms and soles are areas of the body meant as a protective shield.
  • They develop more readily in diabetic patients, as the blood flow to the extremities is already limited, making it easier for dead skin to accumulate there.


A callus is where the skin becomes excessively dry, hard, and thick. It may also take on a gray or yellow hue, and may feel bumpy in texture. The skin on a callus is also less sensitive to touch.

A hard corn looks similar to a callus where the skin becomes hard and thick. It has a gray center surrounded by a yellowish ring. A soft corn resembles an open sore.

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