How can I treat corns and calluses?

James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
If you are prone to corns or calluses, cushion the affected area with moleskin to relieve pressure, and consider getting shoes with wider toe boxes. You can also make a donut with moleskin, lamb's wool, felt, or foam. Many pharmacies sell over-the-counter products to cushion corns and calluses, which you may find helpful. You may want to try custom orthoses (custom shoe inserts) that will redistribute your weight and take pressure off the affected areas. Another option is to use a shoe stretcher to provide more space around the corn or callus.

Better-fitting shoes will reduce the irritation that caused the problem in the first place, and over time, the corns or calluses will shrink on their own. But don't expect overnight results; the process will take weeks or even months. If you can't wait that long, you can treat the problem on your own in most cases. An important exception is if you have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy (impaired nerve function due to systemic damage of the peripheral nerves), or some other circulatory problem. In that case, never try to treat a corn or callus yourself, or you may develop an infection.

Otherwise, you can use a pumice stone, which will gently remove the top layers of skin. Soak your feet in warm water first, to soften the corn or callus. Dry your feet, then rub the pumice stone gently over the corn or callus. Afterward, moisturize the area with skin lotion. The key word is gentle; don't overdo it, or you could hurt your skin. Pharmacies sell various chemical peels and acid disks, but use such products with caution; most of them contain salicylic acid, which can damage healthy tissue unless you follow the instructions exactly. Some foot care specialists advise against using these products at all.

For larger corns and calluses, consult a foot care specialist, who will shave away some of the thickened skin. Although some pedicurists may offer to remove corns and calluses, it's safer to seek help from a trained medical specialist. (In fact, some states do not allow pedicurists to use sharp instruments or blades on the foot.) In some instances, surgery may be necessary to correct an underlying problem of bone structure, especially if you suffer from recurrent corns and calluses.

Treat corns and calluses. These hard, thickened areas of skin can be treated with warm soaks and sloughed off with a pumice stone. Corns can be removed by a podiatrist. Avoid over-the-counter treatments that contain acid, as they can burn skin or cause ulcers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.