Corns and calluses can develop for a variety of reasons, including friction between the foot and shoe, rubbing, irritation, or continual pressure against the skin. Both corns and calluses can be annoying and bothersome, but they develop to protect your skin, and both of these skin conditions are treatable and preventable. It’s important to know the difference between the two, so they can be treated properly. The difference between corns and calluses

The Difference Between Corns and Calluses

Both corns and calluses are formed by layers of hard, thick skin that build up on your toes and feet. They can also develop on your hands and other parts of the body. Corns are round and small and usually found on the top or sides of your toes. Calluses, however, tend to be thicker and harder patches on the skin. These are usually found on the bottom of your foot or where most of your weight is carried—on your heel, big toe, or the ball of the foot.

Types of Corns

There are few different types of corns:

  • Hard corns. These are small, hard, and dense on thickened areas of the skin. They tend to form on the top of the toes where bone pressure is against the skin.
  • Soft corns. These are usually white or gray in color and have almost a rubbery texture. These develop between the toes.
  • Seed corns: These are small and round corns that form on the bottom of the feet.


It is actually common to have a fair amount of callus on the bottom of your foot. Calluses are irregular in shape and very rough and patchy to the touch. They form as a way for your body to protect the inner layers of skin from irritation and injury.

Who Gets Corns and Calluses?

Athletes tend to develop calluses because they engage in a high level of activity, and greater demand is placed on their feet. Calluses can also develop on the hands and fingers. Gymnasts, guitarists, tennis players, construction workers, or any person in a profession/activity that uses repetitive motion and pressure will likely have calluses on their hands. In contrast, corns are more likely to be caused by ill-fitting shoes or a side effect of an illness.

You are more likely to experience corns and calluses when:

  • You have a pre-existing medical condition that causes the bone of your feet to be out of alignment. Some examples of this would be arthritis, bunions, or bone spurs.
  • You often walk around without socks.
  • You wear shoes that are too tight or narrow.
  • You are a smoker.

Causes of Corns and Calluses

Even though corns and calluses appear on different parts of the foot and sometimes look dissimilar, they are actually caused by many of the same factors. These include:

  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit well. Ill-fitting shoes can cause problems for your feet. If shoes are too tight, they rub against the skin and cause irritation. Women who wear high heels are also at risk of developing calluses due to the downward pressure while walking.
  • Standing, walking or running. If you stand on your feet for a long period of time each day, are a marathon runner, or walk/hike frequently, you’re likely to develop corns or calluses.
  • Walking barefoot frequently. With nothing to protect your feet from pavement, grass, and a variety of other surfaces, your feet are more likely to develop calluses to protect themselves.
  • Having structural foot deformities. If you have hammertoes, tailor’s bunions, or birth deformities, it’s likely that corns will develop.

Living with Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are not painful when they first appear but can quickly become uncomfortable and irritating. Calluses are less sensitive but sometimes crack. These cracks are called fissures and can begin to hurt. Corns are usually tender to the touch and noticeably uncomfortable sooner.

If corns and calluses are left untreated, they will likely increase in size and have a higher risk of becoming infected. The bigger they get, the more they will affect everyday life and will need proper treatment.

How to Diagnose and Treat Corns and Calluses

A visual inspection of the foot is usually sufficient to diagnose a corn or callus, and this can be done with a simple visit to the podiatrist. A podiatrist can also help you find treatment and solutions. Some examples of treatment may include:

  • Soaking the corn or callus in warm water
  • Using a pumice stone to remove the corn or callus
  • Applying a moisturizer that will soften the skin

Are You Looking for a Foot Care Specialist in Austin, TX?

If you are looking for foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatristAustin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.


Craig Thomajan
Connect with me
Austin Podiatrist