Corns and calluses
Corns and calluses are hard or thick areas of skin that can be painful. They're not often serious. There are things you can try to ease them yourself.
Check if you have a corn or callus
You mostly get corns and calluses on your feet, toes and hands.
What you can do about corns and calluses
If you have diabetes, heart disease or problems with your circulation, do not try to treat corns and calluses yourself.
These conditions can make foot problems more serious. See a GP or foot specialist.
Corns and calluses are not often serious.
There are some things you can try to get rid of them yourself and stop them coming back.
wear thick, cushioned socks
wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole that do not rub
use soft insoles or heel pads in your shoes
soak corns and calluses in warm water to soften them
regularly use a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin
moisturise to help keep skin soft
do not try to cut off corns or calluses yourself
do not walk long distances or stand for long periods
do not wear high heels or tight pointy shoes
do not go barefoot
A pharmacist can help with corns and calluses
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- heel pads and insoles
- products to treat corns and calluses
- different types of pain relief
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
You think you have a corn or callus and:
- you have diabetes
- you have heart disease or problems with your circulation
- it bleeds, or has any pus or discharge
- it has not improved after treating it at home for 3 weeks
- the pain is severe or stopping you doing your normal activities
What we mean by severe pain
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- always there
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
- comes and goes
- is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities
Treatment for corns and calluses
A GP can check if you have a corn or callus.
- give you antibiotics if a corn or callus is infected
- refer you to a foot specialist if they think you need further treatment
Treatment from a foot specialist
A foot specialist, such as a podiatrist, may be able to offer treatments such as:
- cutting away the corn or callus
- patches to help soften the hard skin so it can be removed
- specially made soft pads or insoles to take pressure off the painful area of your foot
Referral to a podiatrist on the NHS may not be available to everyone and waiting times can be long. You can pay to see a podiatrist privately.
Self-refer to a podiatrist
If you have corns or calluses, you might be able to refer yourself directly to a podiatrist without seeing a GP.
To find out if there are any services in your area:
- ask the reception staff at your GP surgery
- check your GP surgery's website
- contact your integrated care board (ICB) – find your local ICB
- search online for NHS podiatrists near you
Common causes of corns or calluses
Corns and calluses are caused by pressure or rubbing of the skin on the hands or feet.
For example, from:
- wearing high heels, uncomfortable shoes or shoes that are the wrong size
- not wearing socks with shoes
- lifting heavy weights
- playing a musical instrument
Page last reviewed: 24 August 2022
Next review due: 24 August 2025