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What are Corns and Calluses?

Corns and Callus

Corns and calluses
Interdigital soft corn.

Calluses and corns are an abnormal thickening of the non-living outer layer of the skin called the stratum corneum.  This thickening is caused when the skin is subjected to too much pressure. Corns and calluses are essentially made of the same ‘stuff’, the difference mostly being in the shape of the build up.  Calluses are broad and flat – you can think of them as being a bit like standing on a 10c coin.  They cause discomfort and, at worst, moderate pain. Corns have a very hard central core and a shape like a pebble.  You can imagine that this will be more painful. Remember that, because they form due to pressure, they always form at the most ‘pressured’ spot.  It’s a bit like sticky taping a pebble into the worst part of your foot and walking around on it day after day.

Although corns cause you pain, remembering that the corn is not actually alive and doesn’t have nerves, you can appreciate that the corn itself is not in pain. The core of the corn focuses the pressure into a small area (under the pebble), pushes on the normal skin below it and it is that living skin that is in pain. The happy news is that this means that, no matter how sore your corn is, it can be removed without pain. Generally it is the work of a couple of minutes and no anaesthetic or suffering is required.

The pressure that causes the corn or callus can either be caused from external things (almost always footwear) or by some internal aspect of the foot’s structure that puts too much pressure in one place and too little in another. More information is available at our Corns and Callus info page. Click this link to return to the Podiatry FAQs Blog.

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