Cracking Down on Corns

Corns on your feet get a bad rap. They’re really just trying to help! A corn forms when the skin on your feet is irritated by pressure and friction, and begins to thicken and build up to provide a protective barrier. So why would we want to get rid of them, besides the fact that they’re not all that attractive? Well, because although they are shielding your skin, they can become so built up that they cause discomfort and pain themselves.

Corn Callus Confusion

Corns and calluses are often confused with one another. They are both built-up layers of dead tissue that develop secondary to pressure. However corns are generally found on the sides and tops of toes, while calluses can be found just about anywhere that’s endured repetitive friction, often along the sole of your foot.

Kinds of Corns

There are different types of corns that can form on your foot. A hard corn is a patch of thickened, dead skin with a packed, dense center. Soft Corns have a thinner surface, smoother center, and are typically found between the fourth and fifth toes. They can be red and tender. A seed corn is a tiny focal area, usually in a weight-bearing area, on the bottom of your foot that is often very painful. It is thought that a possible cause of the seed corn may be a blocked sweat ducts.


Most corns are caused by ill-fitting footwear. Shoes that are too small so that the toes do not have enough room, or too tight so the toes are squished together, are bound to rub and cause irritation. High-heeled shoes are often the worst offenders. They not only crowd the toes, but also put too much pressure on them. Other culprits include an improper walking gait, foot deformities, and wearing shoes without socks.

Cases of Mistaken Identity

Calluses aren’t the only things mistaken for corns. Sometimes they are confused with other conditions as well. If what you think is a corn develops where there is no sign of friction or pressure, then it could be a wart, or perhaps something like a splinter trapped underneath the skin. The best way to determine what you’re dealing with is to have us take a look.

What We Can Do

We may shave off the top layers of the skin to reduce the corn’s thickness, but typically it will disappear gradually on its own—once the source of pressure and friction is removed. In the meantime, pads can be used as a protective layer between your foot and shoe. You can also use a pumice stone after your bath or shower to gently rub away dead skin. Never try to cut off a corn. This is especially true if you have diabetes, since a corn that is cut can invite infection.

To prevent corns from coming back, switch to shoes that fit, with plenty of wiggle room for your toes. To ensure a good fit, have your feet measured, shop for footwear at the end of the day when your feet have some natural swelling, and steer clear of pointy toes and high heels.

If you’d like Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen or any other member of our team to help you keep your feet healthy, just call (303) 805-5156, or visit Podiatry Associates, P.C. in Castle Pines, Cherry Creek, and Parker, CO.