Corns and calluses are patches of rough, hardened skin that form in response to a source of friction or pressure over a long period of time. Calluses are usually long and flat, and appear in weight-bearing locations (e.g., the soles), while corns are more cone-shaped and tend to be located along toes.
Although corns and calluses exist to protect you (better a callus than an open sore!), they have their downsides:
- They’re unsightly.
- They can become inflamed and cause pain—especially corns.
- They can pose a medical risk if your nerves or circulation are compromised, for example as a complication of diabetes.
Corns and calluses do not necessarily need professional treatment if you are healthy and they aren’t causing you too much pain. Remove the source of the friction—for example, roomier shoes, moleskin pads, and other conservative treatments—and they should go away on their own in time. You can also gently thin them out by soaking your feet and gently removing a small amount of dead skin with an emery board.
However, there are some situations where you should consider seeking the assistance of a foot specialist:
- You have diabetes, or any other condition with weakened circulation, immunity, or nerve health. You are at much higher risk of cuts, sores, and infections, so we generally recommend that you have your corns and calluses safely treated in our office.
- You are experiencing significant pain, or having difficulty engaging in regular activity or wearing shoes. Calluses rarely cause discomfort, but corns can be quite painful under certain circumstances. We’ll help you deal with them quickly and efficiently.
- They keep coming back. Recurrent corns and calluses may indicate a more fundamental underlying problem. For example, a bone spur or structural misalignment may be placing excess pressure on the skin in a certain area.