What Is the Difference Between a Corn and a Callus?

Our Podiatrist Explains Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are very similar, in that they are both the body’s response to friction on the skin. The area where a corn or a callus form is characterized by hardening or thickening of the skin.

It is a form of protection from friction caused by pressure or constant rubbing on the area. Neither of these are particularly harmful to your overall health. Also, they are not contagious so you cannot pass these on to your friends or loved ones.

Some people are more prone to developing corns and calluses—such as:

  • Construction workers and laborers who carry and handle tools
  • People that play sports such as tennis, weight lifting, or gymnastics
  • And even those that play guitar

What Is the Difference Between a Corn and a Callus?

Below, our NYC podiatrist, Dr. Robertson, explains the differences between corns and calluses. It is important to understand the fundamental causes and symptoms of both conditions. Read on to learn more!

What Is a Callus?

A callus forms when the skin has become thick or toughened due to pressure, irritation, or friction.

Where Can Calluses Form?

Calluses can be found on the feet but might also form on the:

  • Hands
  • Elbows
  • And knees as well

If calluses have formed on the toes, they have often formed on or near the base of the toes.

What Causes Calluses on the Feet?

Calluses on the feet are caused by poorly fitted shoes, but can also occur due to the way the person walks, uneven weight distribution, or from playing sports.

What Do Calluses Look Like?

Calluses are pale or yellowish in color. While they may feel lump to the touch, the thickness of the skin may make it less sensitive compared to the skin around it. Calluses usually don't have clearly defined edges and are often wider and larger than corns.

What Is a Corn?

A corn is actually a type of callus. Formed from dead skin, corns typically form on skin surfaces that are smooth or hairless, such as the top or side of toes. Corns can either be hard or soft, which refers to the thickness of the center where it has developed, also referred to as the "core."

This is the area that has received the brunt of friction. Regardless of whether they're hard or soft, they appear as small and circular formations on the skin.

What Are the Different Types of Corns?

Soft corns, which are whitish in color and have a rubbery texture, typically develop between the toes and in areas where the skin can get moist and sweaty.

Hard corns are often found on the top of the feet most of the time, but they may also appear in bony areas of the foot, or where calluses have already appeared. More than likely, they develop due to tight-fitting shoes that mash the toes together and don’t allow enough room for them to breathe or move around freely.

What Are the Treatment Options for Corns and Calluses?

Conservative treatments for corns and calluses can be effective to remove the dead skin that has formed. This might include: soaking the feet in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes and using a pumice stone or file to scrub away the dead skin.

However, medical intervention from an NYC foot doctor who specializes in corn and callus care might be necessary. This is especially true if the skin has hardened to the point where it has become painful for the patient, making it difficult to carry out his or her day-to-day functions.

Corn or callus removal might also be necessary in cases where they are caused by serious medical conditions that affect the foot, such as bunions and hammertoes. Whatever the case may be, New York Foot Center and our NYC foot doctor who specializes in corn and callus treatment can discuss a care plan with you to help you find relief.

To schedule an appointment with New York Foot Center to manage the health of your feet, contact us today! We are happy to help you in every way we can.