foot corn

Understanding Foot Corns: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Foot corns are a common but often overlooked issue that can cause significant discomfort and pain if not properly treated. These seemingly insignificant skin formations can disrupt your daily activities, such as walking, exercising, or even standing. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you an in-depth understanding of foot corns, including what they are, the reasons they develop, how to identify them, and various treatment options to consider.

What Are Foot Corns?

Foot corns are areas of hardened, thickened skin that usually appear on the feet due to prolonged pressure and friction. Unlike calluses, which are larger, flatter and typically appear on parts of the skin that bear weight, corns are smaller and have a hard centre surrounded by inflamed skin. They often appear on non-weight-bearing parts of the skin or between the toes. If you’ve ever felt a hard, painful spot on your foot while walking, chances are it’s a corn. 

how to remove a foot corn

What Causes Foot Corns?

The development of foot corns is usually due to a number of factors, such as:

Poorly Fitting Footwear

Wearing shoes that are too tight, too loose, or that lack adequate cushioning and support can lead to the development of corns. Shoes with high heels can put extra pressure on the toes and balls of your feet, while shoes that are too loose can cause your foot to slide and rub against the shoe.

Pre-existing Foot Deformities

Conditions like hammertoe, bunions, or other foot deformities can also contribute to the formation of corns due to abnormal friction and pressure.

Lifestyle and Activities

Activities that place a strain on your feet or involve repeated motions can be a hidden cause of corns. Sports that require tight-fitting shoes like climbing or that involve intensive running or jumping may contribute. Even long periods of standing or walking can be factors, particularly if you’re not used to it or have poor fitting shoes.

Ageing and Skin Changes

As you age, the skin tends to become less elastic and the padding of fat on the bottom of the feet may thin out. These changes can make you more susceptible to corns.

foot corn treatment

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you suspect you have a corn, look out for these common signs:

  • A hard, raised bump on your foot, often surrounded by areas of flaky or dry skin
  • Pain or tenderness under the skin, especially during walking or standing
  • A rough or waxy texture of the affected skin area

Don’t ignore these symptoms. It’s important to consult a Podiatrist or Chiropodist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Different Types of Corns

Understanding the type of corn you have can significantly influence the treatment process.

Hard Corns

These are the most common type of corns and usually appear on the top of smaller toes or on the outer side of the little toe where it rubs against your shoe. Hard corns are dense, compact, and sit on a patch of thickened skin that is about the size of a pea.

Soft Corns

Soft corns have a much softer texture and often form between the toes where the skin is damp, making them susceptible to infection. They are rubbery and soft to the touch.

Seed Corns

These are tiny, discrete corns that often appear on the bottom of the foot and are less common than the other types. They are generally painless but can become uncomfortable when you apply pressure on them.

toe corn

Diagnosing Foot Corns

While most foot corns can be diagnosed by a simple visual inspection, in some cases, an X-ray may be necessary to examine the underlying bone structure and rule out other possible conditions. Consult a Chiropodist or Podiatrist for a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment Options

There are various ways to treat corns, from over-the-counter solutions to professional treatments.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

You can find a variety of products like pads, cushions, and medicated plasters designed to relieve pressure and pain. Corn-removing solutions containing salicylic acid can also be effective in softening and gradually removing the corn. However, these should be used with caution, especially if you have sensitive skin. We recommend booking an appointment with a Podiatrist before trying this yourself.

Podiatry and Chiropody Treatments

If the corn persists or worsens, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a Chiropodist or Podiatrist. Treatments might include:

  • Shaving the Corn: a Podiatrist can use a scalpel to carefully remove the thickened skin. This should not be attempted at home as there is a risk of infection if done incorrectly. 

  • Removing the Corn: our experts can remove the root of the corn in clinic. Do not try to remove the corn yourself with a knife or scissors.
  • Custom Orthotics: for recurring corns caused by foot deformities, custom orthotics can help redistribute pressure effectively. One of our Podiatrists will be able to assess if this option is needed for you. 

  • A full examination to see if the issue is actually a corn or whether it has been misdiagnosed.

Home Remedies

For those looking for DIY options, soaking your feet in warm water and gently rubbing the area with a pumice stone can remove some layers of the corn. However, home remedies are generally not recommended for individuals with diabetes, poor circulation, or other underlying health conditions. Always check with a Podiatrist if you’re not sure.

Prevention Tips

Prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to avoid the formation of corns:

  • Opt for well-fitting shoes with adequate cushioning and support.
  • Use protective pads or cushions if you’re prone to corns.
  • Maintain proper foot hygiene to keep your feet dry and clean.
  • See a Podiatrist or Chiropodist as soon as symptoms appear.


Foot corns may seem small but they can greatly affect your quality of life. The good news is, with the right knowledge and early intervention, corns can be easily managed or entirely eradicated. Always consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan.

By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for foot corns, you can take effective steps to manage this common condition.

chiropody for corns

If you want advice on corns or calluses, our expert Podiatrists can help to get you back on your feet!

Book an Appointment today or give us a call on 01273 711 399 for some free advice.

DISCLAIMER: All content within this column is provided for general information only and should not substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. S57 Health & Wellbeing Clinic is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site.