What is the difference between a corn and a callus?

This may seem like a simple question but I was asked by one of my medical assistants just today.  And the way I think of things is if one person doesn’t know it there’s probably many other people that don’t know the difference between a corn and a callus. 

Today a patient asked her looking at her feet, well is this corn or a callus, so I’ll explain it for your today. A callus is on the bottom of the foot usually the heal or the ball of the foot or kind of underneath one of the toes.  A callus is on the bottom and it’s an accumulation of skin that becomes hard and has to be treated even being removed using a callus cream or pumice stone.  

A corn, on the other hand, is usually on top of the toe or between the toes and they can be pinching corns, we call them kissing calluses or corns, if they are between the toes or if there is a toe for example that is crocked and has a hammering of the toe that can cause rubbing on the shoe and cause a corn to be on top.  And a corn, just like a callus if there is too much pressure, or if it becomes too thick or it isn’t treated both of them can cause injury to the skin underneath and can cause a wound to develop. 

Corns and calluses both should be treated, typically it can be treated with a urea based creams, one of the creams is called Kerasal – another option of treating it is a pumice stone for the calluses on the bottom.  Between the toes it’s a little more challenging, we in the office typically use a medical grade razor blade to remove them and you also have to determine if there’s a bump underneath it, you really shouldn’t be trimming the ones in between your toes. There are a number of pads that can be used to help separate the toes so they can become less painful. So I hope you can understand today what the difference is between a corn and a callus is.

To your health,

Dr. Donald Pelto