Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine your feet and rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts. He or she may recommend an X-ray if a physical abnormality is causing the corn or callus.

Treatment

Treatment for corns and calluses usually involves avoiding the repetitive actions that caused them to develop. You can help resolve them by wearing properly fitting shoes, using protective pads and taking other self-care measures.

If a corn or callus persists or becomes painful despite your self-care efforts, medical treatments can provide relief:

  • Trimming away excess skin. Your doctor can pare down thickened skin or trim a large corn with a scalpel, usually during an office visit. Don't try this yourself because it could lead to an infection.
  • Callus-removing medication. Your doctor may also apply a patch containing 40 percent salicylic acid (Clear Away, MediPlast,others). Such patches are available without a prescription. Your doctor will let you know how often you need to replace this patch. He or she may recommend that you use a pumice stone, nail file or emery board to smooth away dead skin before applying a new patch. You can also get a prescription for salicylic acid in gel form to apply on larger areas.
  • Shoe inserts. If you have an underlying foot deformity, your doctor may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts (orthotics) to prevent recurring corns or calluses.
  • Surgery. In rare instances, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the alignment of a bone causing friction.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow, consult your doctor before treating a corn and callus on your own.

If you have no underlying health problems, try these suggestions to help clear up a corn or callus:

  • Use over-the-counter pads. Apply a pad to protect the area where a corn or callus developed. Be careful using over-the-counter (nonprescription) liquid corn removers or medicated corn pads. These contain salicylic acid, which can irritate healthy skin and lead to infection, especially in people with diabetes or other conditions that cause poor blood flow.
  • Soak your hands or feet. Soaking your hands or feet in warm, soapy water softens corns and calluses. This can make it easier to remove the thickened skin.
  • Thin thickened skin. During or after bathing, rub a corn or callus with a pumice stone, nail file, emery board or washcloth to help remove a layer of toughened skin. Don't use a sharp object to trim the skin. Don't use a pumice stone if you have diabetes.
  • Moisturize your skin. Apply moisturizer to your hands and feet to help keep the skin soft.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Stick to well-fitting, cushioned shoes and socks until your corn or callus disappears.
April 27, 2017
References
  1. Goldstein BG, et al. Overview of benign lesions of the skin. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 21, 2016.
  2. Calluses and corns. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cornification-disorders/calluses-and-corns. Accessed Dec. 21, 2016.
  3. Corns and calluses. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/conditions/ailments-of-the-big-toe/Pages/Corns-and-Calluses.aspx. Accessed Dec. 21, 2016.