What is a Foot Corn?

What is a Foot Corn?


A corn is a bump of hard skin on the foot. They typically appear as a raised hard, yellowish patch of skin that is often tender to touch and painful when walking or wearing shoes. 

A corn is not normally a serious health condition. They tend to form small hard lumps of skin that distinguish them from callus, which form larger patches of thick skin on the feet. 


Corns are a result of your body’s natural response to pressure. The pressure compacts the skin into an inverted cone shape which gradually increases in size and eventually causes pain.  There can be a number of causes, but normally they develop due to excessive pressure linked to foot shape and poorly fitted shoes. There are common areas of the foot that are more likely to experience pressure, which means they are more prone to corn buildup, these include:

  • The sides of your small toes
  • At the corner of your nail
  • Between your toes
  • The soles of the feet


There are many simple at home or over the counter treatments to manage corns. These include:

At home treatments

  • Soak your feet in warm water to soften the hardened skin
  • Use regular moisturisers/emollient cream with 10% urea on the area
  • Use a pumice stone or file to help erode the corn down
  • Throw away any shoes that are too tight or have insufficient cushioning, causing pressure and development of corns

Over-the-counter treatments

  • Corn-pads (pad with a hole) can help off-load pressure from the area and allow the corn to settle. These are available from most pharmacies.
  • Salicylic acid gel can be used to resolve the corn quicker.  These include corn plasters that contain salicylic acid. However, they can irritate healthy skin around the corn so make sure only the corn itself is treated

When you should visit a specialist

If home and over-the-counter treatments fail, then it may be best to see a podiatrist, a foot and ankle specialist, who can help resolve the corn by carefully scraping, away the buildup of compressed hard skin.  They can also look at offloading high pressure areas using orthotics (insoles) if this is required, or giving good footwear advice. 

If you have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, it may be best to see a podiatrist before trying home treatments.

How to prevent corns

Once your corns have resolved, it is best to keep them from recurring. Simple measures are often effective; try using well cushioned shoes and socks that are thick around the areas that are prone to corn growth, and ensure there is enough space in the toe boxes of your shoes.

Find out more about corn treatment

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Thoughts and advice on foot health care from the Podogo team.