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Corns and calluses usually appear on the areas of the skin that are exposed to pressure or friction. They represent thickening of the skin formed with the purpose of strengthening the areas affected by mechanical force and protect them from damage. Although the primary role of corns and calluses is protective, they can often cause pain, discomfort, and aesthetic problems.

Corns and Calluses

Hyperkeratosis is a natural response of the skin to physical pressure. It is accomplished by overproduction of skin cells in the affected area, thus causing the accumulation of dead cells in the superficial layer of the skin.

The difference between corns and calluses lies only in their shape, while their causes and pathological properties are the same. Corns are small, localized areas of hyperkeratosis, usually round or oval in shape. They usually appear between the fingers or on the surfaces pressed by rough parts of uncomfortable shoes. Corns can also appear on the fingers due to repetitive pressure by mechanic tools such as hammers. Calluses cover wider areas of the skin and they are usually thicker than corns. They also appear on the hands and feet.


Corns and calluses usually look yellow to gray, and they can be hard or soft. The most common complaint is pain which appears only when the pressure is applied to these skin changes. They can also be damaged by poorly fitting shoes or attempts to tear them off or squeeze them which produces pain.

Bleeding is not very common, as corns and calluses are made of dead cells and do not have blood vessels, but bleeding can appear if deeper layers of the skin are damaged. The diagnosis of corns and calluses is very easy and it is established by simple observation of the skin changes by your doctor or dermatologist.


Treatment of corns and calluses is not necessary if they don't produce symptoms such as pain and discomfort. It has not been shown that corns and calluses can evolve to cancer or produce other complications. Sometimes they can look bad so the treatment is needed for aesthetic reasons.

The first thing that needs to be done is the elimination of the cause. Acquire some well-fitted shoes that will not make further damage to the affected areas of the skin. By removing the pressure, most of the corns and calluses will gradually reduce in size and eventually disappear. It is advisable to soak your hands and feet in warm water 2-3 times a day in order to remove dead skin cells more rapidly. Cosmetics called keratolytics can be used to speed-up the removal of dead cells, and one of them is salicylic acid.

Do not try to manually tear or cut off corns and calluses as that can cause bleeding, scarring, and ulceration. People with diabetes mellitus are particularly at risk of these complications.

Your doctor will decide whether you need to visit a surgeon and get your corn or callus surgically removed. Keep in mind that prevention is crucial, and that surgically removed corns can reappear if the pressure on the affected areas continues.

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