Corns are small circles of thick skin that usually develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot. However, they can occur anywhere.

Corns are often caused by: 

  • wearing shoes that fit poorly – shoes that are too loose can allow your foot to slide and rub

  • certain shoe designs that place excessive pressure on an area of the foot – for example, high-heeled shoes can squeeze the toes

Corns often occur on bony feet as there's a lack of natural cushioning

Calluses are hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour.

They can develop on the feet, usually around the heel area or on the skin under the ball of the foot.

Calluses are larger than corns and don't have such a well-defined edge. As callused skin is thick, it's often less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin.

Calluses develop when the skin rubs against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground. They often form over the ball of your foot because this area takes most of your weight when you walk.


Your podiatrist will not only recommend ways to relieve pain and get rid of the corn or callus, but can also help with isolating the cause and preventing reoccurring problems.

To treat painful corns, your podiatrist will gently remove some of the hard skin off the callus so that the centre of the corn can be removed.

To allow the callus to heal and prevent future cases, your podiatrist may redistribute pressure on the foot with soft padding and strapping or deflective appliances that fit easily into your shoes. For corns on the toes, small foam wedges are useful for relieving pressure on affected parts. For older patients suffering from calluses on the soles of the feet, extra shock absorption in shoes for the ball of the foot can help compensate for loss of natural padding.

Your podiatrist may also discuss the type of footwear most likely to cause corns and calluses. In some cases, special inserts known as orthoses may be prescribed to reduce excessive weight bearing forces on the foot and provide long term relief.