What Are Corns?

Corns, also known as a “heloma”, are small circular areas of thick and hardened skin. While they can appear on other parts of the body, you can usually find corns located on non-weight bearing or bonier parts of the foot where the skin is thinner, such as toes. The soft skin thickens and acts as a natural defence against repeated or excessive friction and rubbing. Corns can be hard or soft, as they are formed by the same irritations as calluses. 

While corns and calluses are similar, they differ in appearance and function. Corns are often smaller than calluses but thicker in the centre. They also form on non-weight-bearing parts of the foot, where calluses do not.

While corns can be unproblematic, they can get painful if they grow too big and make it difficult to walk. Corns are frequently caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can add a great amount of pressure to certain parts of your foot.


What Are the Symptoms of Corns? 

Corns appear round and are hard to the touch. They are usually formed on the sides or tops of your toes. There are different types of corns:

  • Hard Corns: These corns are small, hard, and dry. They typically form over the surfaces of the toes.
  • Soft Corns: While these corns are hard in the centre, they’re also moister and more pliable than hard corns. The reason why they’re moist is due to their formation between toes where moisture collects. 
  • Seed Corns: These corns are much smaller than others and will usually form on the bottom of your foot. 

Corns have the possibility of growing more painful as they enlarge, which can create issues. You may experience:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Foot pain
  • Irritation on the area of the corns
  • Brown, black or red spots by the callus - this discolouration is a sign that there may be bleeding under the surface of the callus 



Why Do We Get Corns?

As stated, corns develop as part of a defence mechanism to protect skin from getting blisters or other issues. The repetition of friction for prolonged periods can cause the outer layer of skin to thicken, providing extra cushioning. 

Corns can be caused by the following:

  • Friction from wearing ill-fitting footwear
  • Bony prominences on your feet
  • Medical conditions that change the regular alignment of your feet, such as bunions, hammertoes, or bone spurs
  • Occupations that require a large amount of standing or walking
  • Activities that require you to be on your feet for prolonged periods 
  • Diabetes
  • Loss of the fat pad - this portion acts as a cushion underneath your feet 
  • Walking without socks, shoes, or slippers
  • Wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet
  • Smoking cigarettes 

How To Prevent Corns

There are many ways in which you can reduce the risk of developing corns on your feet:

  • Wear shoes that fit you correctly and comfortably. At our foot clinic, you can find the proper footwear that can aid in any deformities or conditions that require extra support.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize your feet as often as you can.
  • If you’re suffering from any biomechanical abnormalities, you can correct them with the use of orthotics. Orthotics help correct irregular foot mechanics by redistributing your weight evenly. Doing so releases any pressure that’s being put on the corn.
  • Our foot specialists can provide a medical pedicure to remove any thickened skin that was developed by corns. 


Seeing a foot specialist can help if you’re dealing with any foot complications from corns. 

Corns can sometimes disappear on their own, but there may be other factoring reasons why they don’t. People with diabetes often suffer from poor foot circulation. Consulting with a foot specialist can help avoid any complications. 

Corn Removal

First, a licenced foot specialist will examine your feet and shave down or remove the corn. They will use safe, medical-grade tools during the process. The foot specialist may also include ointment or moisturizer that can repair the skin.

Your foot specialist may suggest shoe inserts or custom orthotics to treat corns; they’ll stop repeated friction and add comfort to specific parts of the foot where there’s a lot of pressure.

Home Remedies 

  • Soak your feet in a warm tub with Epsom salts for 10-15 minutes until the skin softens.
  • After soaking, dry your feet with a clean towel.
  • Moisturize your feet with lotion.
  • Repeat this process until your corn begins softening. 
  • Gently rub the corn with a pumice stone, or use a nail file if it’s located between your toes.
  • Repeat these steps until your corn begins to go away. 

There are other options if you prefer not to use a stone or file:

  • Soak your feet daily with warm water and Epsom salt. 
  • Apply castor oil to the corn and use a corn pad to cover it. Corn pads can be purchased at your local pharmacy stores. They help relieve the pressure from the area so that the corn can heal. 
  • It’s important to never cut or shave away a corn on your own, as you can seriously injure yourself. 
  • You may want to look into over-the-counter options, such as corn pads that contain salicylic acid. Applying them to your corns can result in them disappearing as quickly as two weeks, depending on the severity of their condition. 

If you’re struggling with foot pain from corns, schedule an appointment with a foot specialist today. With their services, you may find yourself back on your feet again with maximum comfort.



Toronto, ON Chiropodist Academy Foot and Orthotic


Across from the Broadview Subway | Professional Family Foot Care