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HealthInfo Canterbury

Corns & calluses

A corn or callus is an area of thickened skin that forms at pressure points over bony areas of your foot.

Too much pressure, usually with some friction, causes a corn or callus. So the skin thickens up to protect itself from the pressure. Corns and calluses are two of the most common problems that podiatrists see. The symptoms depend on where they are.

Too much pressure can be caused by:

Why are they a problem?

CornA corn is a cone-shaped mass of skin pointing down into your foot. A callus is a dispersed, or wider, area of thickened skin that does not have a centre like a corn.

There are two main types of corns.

Corns can become infected and develop ulcers. This can be a serious complication for people with poor circulation, peripheral neuropathy and those who need special diabetes foot care.

Can I treat them myself?

You should never try to cut out a corn yourself, as you are likely to cut into your flesh and cause an infection. However, there are things you can do to help relieve the symptoms.

If you have poor circulation or a long-term medical condition like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, it's not a good idea to use corn caps. This is because if you have frail skin or poor circulation, corn caps are very likely to cause an ulcer, which could become infected.

When to see a podiatrist

Your podiatrist will need to work out what is causing your corn or callus and what is the best way to manage it. If you have diabetes or poor circulation it is especially important to see a podiatrist.

Your podiatrist is likely to consider several options for managing your corn or callus. These include:

In Canterbury, it costs from $45 to $90 for a first consultation and treatment with a private podiatrist. Orthotics can vary from $75 to $500, depending on the clinic and the type of orthotic used.

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Written by Canterbury podiatrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created April 2016.

Page reference: 53585

Review key: HICCA-28239