Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are often grouped together, so it's easy to be confused as to the similarities and differences. The main similarity is that they are both developed from the accumulation of dead skin cells that form thick, hardened areas. Beyond that is where they show their differences.


  • Corns are commonly found on the tops, sides and tips of the toes. Corns that form between the toes are sometimes called soft corns.
  • Corns have a cone-shaped core whose point can press on the nerve below.
  • Corns can become red and inflamed.
Common causes of corns are tight shoes, high heels, deformed toes, or shoes that slide back and forth because they fit too loosely.


  • Calluses are commonly found on the ball of the foot, the heel, or the inside of the big toe.
  • Calluses form to defend the foot against excessive pressure and friction.
  • Calluses are not usually too painful, but if they have a deep-seated core (nucleation), it can be especially painful. This is referred to as intractable plantar keratosis.
Like corns, calluses can develop due to excessive pressure at a specific area of the foot and can be caused by high heels or shoes that are too small. However, they can also be caused by obesity, abnormalities in your walking motion, flat feet, high arched feet, and the loss of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot.


Corns and calluses can both generally be avoided if you wear shoes that fit correctly, avoid wearing high heels, and consider using an orthotic shoe insert made with materials that will absorb shock and shear forces.

If you are suffering from annoying or painful skin or nail problems in North Carolina, schedule an appointment at the Gastonia, NC clinic of Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists by calling 704-861-0425.

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054