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.

Small pink lump of hard skin with cracked skin in the middle on a person's toe. Shown on white skin.
Corns are small lumps of hard skin.
Rough callused balls of feet.
Calluses are larger patches of rough, thick skin.

Corns and calluses can also be tender or painful.

What you can do about corns and calluses

Important: Important

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 and there are things you can try to:

Do

  • 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

Don’t

  • 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

You can ask a pharmacist about:

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

Treatment from a foot specialist

A GP can:

A foot specialist, such as a podiatrist, may be able to offer treatments such as:

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.

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:

Page last reviewed: 19 November 2018
Next review due: 19 November 2021