How to Get Rid of Corns and Calluses

By Richard Asa @RickAsa
January 29, 2017

Ill-fitting shoes are the most frequent reason they form on your feet. Here's what you should know about how to get rid of nagging corns and calluses.

Although corns and calluses can sometimes be painful, they actually form to protect the tissue underneath them.

They’re areas of thickened skin. Painless calluses can frequently occur on feet and the hands of guitar players, tennis players, and construction workers. Under those circumstances, calluses are beneficial and needed.

Causes of corns and calluses

Corns happen strictly on your feet and are usually the result of ill-fitting shoes or arthritis. They develop due to bone pressure against the skin. Corns are common on the tops and sides of the toes and on the balls of the feet. They can be hard and dry or soft and mushy.

Calluses can become very thick but are usually painless. They 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.


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There are many reasons you develop corns and calluses, and correcting those issues is the best way to get rid of corns and calluses.

Activities that put repeated pressure on your foot, such as running or walking barefoot, can cause calluses to form. Athletes are particularly susceptible to them.

“Be it the size of the shoe or the type, (that) is by far the reason for most foot problems,” says podiatrist James J. DeLorenzo, DPM, of Fishkill, N.Y. “I am certain that most patients would disagree with me while most podiatrists would agree.”

The shoes may not be uncomfortable, DeLorenzo says, but they still may be causing certain pressure or friction at sites where the corns and calluses develop.

Being overweight is another cause of corns and calluses because of the pressure your weight exerts on the balls and heels of your feet, adds Jay Brachfeld, MD, a dermatologist in Boca Raton, Fla.

How to get rid of corns and calluses

Brachfeld notes that most any pharmacy will carry felt pads for cushioning corns, callus removing liquids, and pumice stones to “sand” down a callus.

You should never try to remove corns and calluses by yourself with cutting tools, such as razor blades or shavers, as this can result in serious infection, Brachfeld says. If you want or need immediate relief, a podiatrist or dermatologist can remove these areas of skin for you.

The thickened skin of a corn or callus can be pared down painlessly by using a scalpel blade. Sometimes, repeated or regular trimming sessions are needed. Once a corn or callus has been pared down, it may not return if you use the right shoes for you.

Chemical treatments can also be used. Most contain salicylic acid, which dissolves the protein that makes up your corn and the thick layer of dead skin on top of it.

With your shoes, you might be buying the correct size, but not the correct width. “Get your feet professionally measured at least once at a good shoe store or foot doctor’s office to know the correct size/width of your foot. Also, going without socks can increase pressure from shoes,” Brachfeld says.

He adds that if you have deficiencies in A, E, and B vitamins, as well as essential fatty acids (omega 3’s), these skin conditions can be aggravated. Be sure your multiple vitamin contains them. He says you should also take daily fish oil capsules.

For many people, corns and calluses are a daily part of life, but not necessarily. Wearing the right shoes for your feet can prevent most problems.


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March 25, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN