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What’s the Difference Between a Callus and a Corn?

What’s the Difference Between a Callus and a Corn?

Your feet are ever faithful, taking you where you need to go over your lifetime. On average, Americans walk 3,000-4,000 steps a day, equating at least 1½ miles, one study found. Elsewhere, researchers in England estimated that people walk nearly 75,000 miles during their years on earth. That’s the equivalent of almost three entire trips around our planet!

In the course of all this walking, the skin on your feet is bound to become distressed. Aside from cuts and blisters, you can be plagued with two other conditions that are neither pleasant nor attractive: corns and calluses.

The talented and compassionate team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers can help you with these problems and others, and bring your feet to a smooth state so you’re comfortable and your feet look great. 

We listen, carefully evaluate your foot health, and create a treatment plan designed for you and your unique foot health.

Corns and calluses: How are they different?

Both corns and calluses serve a protective purpose, but they’re different. 


A corn can be hard or soft. Hard corns are areas of skin on your foot that have thickened and died. Each has a center core portion and is painful. They develop on the pressure points of your feet, usually on your soles or the sides of your toes.

A soft corn surface is far thinner, and these typically develop between your fourth and fifth toe. 

Then there’s the seed corn, which is minute and occurs on the bottom of your foot. For something so tiny, it can feel very tender. Clogged sweat ducts are thought to be the cause. 


A callus is a thickening of your skin’s outer layer that — fortunately — doesn’t cause pain. They can appear on your hands and any area of your skin that’s exposed to lots of friction. 

Most calluses develop because of repeated rubbing of the skin, while a plantar callus emerges specifically on the bottom of your foot.

Footwear is another culprit. Ill-fitting shoes and very high heels that put your foot into awkward positions often lead to both calluses and corns. So does frequently wearing shoes without socks. Walking improperly or having foot deformities can also contribute to corns and calluses. 

Dangers of corns and calluses

Sometimes corns and calluses can be nicked or cut in the course of playing sports or walking barefoot, and they may even bleed. 

This opening of the skin puts you at risk for infection. If you notice any pus or clear liquid coming out of your corn or callus, seek treatment from a podiatrist, as it’s an indication of infection. 

Anyone who lives with diabetes or any type of circulatory condition is also at a higher risk for developing an infection related to having a corn or callus, so vigilance in checking your feet daily is required. 

Corn and callus prevention tips

One of the most important preventive steps you can take when it comes to corns and calluses is getting your feet professionally measured before purchasing shoes. A pro can accurately measure the width and length of both feet — which can be different sizes — so you can get the best-fitting shoes possible. 

This will go a long way in keeping corns and calluses away. 

Shopping for shoes late in the day also helps, because this is the time when your feet are their largest. Avoid buying any shoes that feel in the least bit tight or uncomfortable. It’s also smart to replace your shoes or have them resoled by a cobbler regularly, so the soles of your feet are properly protected. 

Roomy shoes are also essential if you have certain foot conditions like hammertoe or bunions

Effective corn and callus treatments

You can try several home treatments for your corns and calluses, including soaking your feet in warm water, gently and carefully filing them in a circular motion with a pumice stone, and keeping your feet well moisturized. 

Store-bought adhesive pads and moleskin patches placed on your corns and calluses can protect them. 

It’s also a good idea to keep your toenails trimmed so your toes and feet aren’t repositioned too much in your shoes. This lessens the chance of corns or calluses developing. 

When you come to South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers for corn and callus treatment, we employ the principles of advanced wound therapy, meaning that we work with you to prevent and treat these problems, and treat other foot conditions that put you at risk for corns and calluses, like hammertoe. 

We may prescribe antibiotic treatment if an infection is present, as well as treat your wound by cleaning and dressing it. 

Consider your podiatrist your teammate in caring for your feet and preventing problems before they emerge whenever possible.

Call the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office that’s most convenient to you and book an appointment to have your feet evaluated, or request one through our website.  

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