Corns and Calluses are a hard, thick layer of skin that develops on the feet and hands due to excessive friction or pressure. They’re a problem experienced by many people and can cause discomfort and pain when you walk or apply pressure on them. These growths are similar in the way they form but there’s a slight difference between the two, which we will explore.
- 1 Corns and Calluses: Know the Difference
- 2 Symptoms
- 3 Causes: How They Develop
- 3.0.1 Wearing the Wrong Type of Shoes
- 3.0.2 Tight-fitting Shoes
- 3.0.3 Oversized Shoes
- 3.0.4 High Heels
- 3.0.5 Loose Seam or Stitch
- 3.0.6 Wearing Shoes without Socks
- 3.0.7 Walking without Shoes
- 3.0.8 Using Tools and Equipment
- 3.0.9 Other Causes
- 3.0.10 Failing to Wear Protective Hand Gear
- 3.0.11 Bunions
- 3.0.12 Hammertoe
- 3.0.13 Other Deformities
- 4 Home Remedies for Corns and Calluses
- 5 Over the Counter Solutions
- 6 Prevention
Corns and Calluses: Know the Difference
The difference between corns and calluses lies in where they form, their size, and the shape the growths take.
Corns are hard and thick circular small layers of skin that have a definite corn-shaped core that points inwards. A hallmark symptom of these growths is that they give off a thorn-like prick when you walk or apply pressure on them. They usually form between the toes although they can occur on top of the toe and are smaller than calluses.
Calluses form on the feet when you apply pressure on the foot and take a shape according to the contour of the area. They’re hard, rough areas of skin that turn yellow or pale in color.
Calluses usually develop on the ball or heel of the foot. They can form on the palm of the hand or on the knuckles. These particular growths are larger than corns. Calluses do not have a well-defined shape like corns, are less sensitive to touch than the skin around the surrounding area, and only become sore or painful when you allow them to grow in size.
Symptoms of corns and calluses include a thick rough skin and a raised hard bump that can be painful when you press it. Standing and walking on them may cause pain and discomfort.
Causes: How They Develop
The main cause of corns and calluses is extreme friction or pressure on the skin of the feet or hands while we walk, run, do manual work using hand held tools or other activities. Below are some of the things that cause corns and calluses.
Wearing the Wrong Type of Shoes
Wearing the wrong type of shoes including tight fitting shoes, loose shoes, high heels or any footwear that does not fit properly is all you need to develop calluses and corns on your feet.
Tight-fitting shoes will increase the friction between your feet and the lining of the shoes as you walk or run thereby causing calluses and corns.
Wearing oversized shoes is a sure way of developing calluses or corns. With lose footwear, your feet will slide and rub on the inner side and experience friction.
High heels put pressure on a particular point of your foot even when you’re standing. They have a tendency of squeezing the toes and put pressure on the heels.
Loose Seam or Stitch
Sometimes a seam or stitch inside the shoe can rub against your foot when you walk and cause a callus.
Wearing Shoes without Socks
When not wearing socks, you leave enough space for friction between your feet and shoes. The same is true if you wear socks that do not fit properly and your feet slide and rub in the socks, which would in turn rub against the shoes. This will most likely create the friction needed to cause calluses.
Walking without Shoes
When you walk barefoot on a rough surface, the skin on your soles hardens as a way of protecting itself from further injury due to the pressure on the feet. This is why corns and calluses develop on the underfoot.
Using Tools and Equipment
People use tools in their daily activities, in the work place, in the home, for leisure and a host of other activities. These handheld tools and equipment sometimes put pressure on the hands. This in turn leads to friction on the soft palms of your hands and causes corns or calluses to develop.
Feet that sweat excessively will cause moisture to accumulate in the shoes and soften, stretch, and separate the skin’s protective layer leading to blisters and calluses. Remaining in a standing position for long will put pressure on the feet and may cause calluses. Some people also certain types of foot problems that put them at higher risks of developing corns and calluses. Below is a list of factors that might make your more predisposed to developing these growths on your feet or hands.
Failing to Wear Protective Hand Gear
Whether you use hand tools on occasion or as part of your daily routine, it’s important to wear gloves all the time. Not doing so exposes your palms to excessive friction, which as we know is a major precursor to calluses.
A bunion is an abnormal bump on the feet. It usually forms under the big toe just at the joint. The bump can cause friction when your wear shoes and lead to corns.
A hammertoe is an abnormal condition that causes one of the toes on your foot to curl. The affected toe curls like a claw and rubs against other toes to cause friction. If you have this deformity, it increases chances of developing foot corns.
Certain foot conditions like a bone spur, can cause rubbing inside the shoe and cause corns on your toes.
Home Remedies for Corns and Calluses
Normally, corns and calluses will heal on their own with time. To speed up healing, there are several home remedies you can try.
Here are 10 quick ways to get rid of corns and calluses from feet or hands:
Using the Pumice Stone
Rubbing the corn and surrounding area with a pumice stone is an effective way to treat it. The pumice stone removes dead, hardened skin, reduces pain and speeds up healing. By following the simple steps below, you can use this stone and speed up recovery time.
- Soak your feet in hot water for 10 minutes before you go to bed. The hot water will soften the hard/dead skin, making it easier to shed.
- Gently rub the pumice stone across the corn for three to five minutes then pat dry.
- Use a cotton ball dipped in castor oil, tape it on the corn and leave it overnight.
- Remove the cotton ball the next morning and apply castor oil on the corn several times during the day.
- Repeat the above steps for several days until the corn heals.
Applying white vinegar on the feet has proved to be an excellent way of treating corns on the feet. The vinegar has a high acidity level to help softens the skin while the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties protect the skin from infection.
You can treat corns with white vinegar in the following ways:
- Mix one part of white vinegar with three parts water before you go to bed.
- Use a cotton ball to dab this mixture onto the corn.
- Cover the corn with the cotton ball, secure with adhesive tape and leave overnight.
- Remove the cotton ball and rub the thick skin on the corn. Using an emery board or pumice stone is the best way to remove the corn growth gently.
- Apply olive or coconut oil to moisturize the area around the corn. Repeat this method daily until the corn heals.
- If your corns are sore and painful, use vinegar mixed with onions.
- Place an onion in a bowl, pour vinegar in it and leave to soak for the whole day.
- Remove the onion before you go to bed and cut it into two halves or thick pieces.
- Take one slice of onion and place it over the corn then wrap a bandage over it and leave overnight.
- Remove the bandage in the morning and gently rub off the corn with the help of a pumice stone. Repeat the process daily if necessary.
- In most cases, four to five days are all you need to get rid of corns.
Apply Baking Soda
Baking soda will help get rid of dead skin hence speed up healing on a corn or callus growth. It’s a natural exfoliating agent with anti-fungal and antibacterial properties to protect your skin from infection.
You can apply the treatment in the following way:
- Add some baking soda (1-3 tablespoons) in warm water. Pour the mixture in a basin and submerge your feet for 10-15 minutes.
- Rub the corn with something abrasive so that dead skin can fall off and speed up the healing process.
- Repeat the above steps daily until the corn dries and heals.
- Another way is to mix one tablespoon of baking soda, lemon juice and water and make a paste.
- The paste should be applied directly on the affected area, cover with a bandage and leave overnight.
- Remove the bandage and rinse the paste with lukewarm water then use the pumice stone to exfoliate gently.
- Repeat until the corn heals.
Lemon is another good remedy you can use in the home to treat and cure corns. The hardened skin on the corn will soften and eventually fall off due to the effect of citric acid in the lemon.
You should apply it as follow:
- Apply lemon juice three times daily on the corn/callus. Ensure to let the juice dry off by itself before rinsing your feet. This allows it to work its way through the skin.
- Repeat daily until you heal.
- Take about two clove pieces then mix them with lemon juice (1-tablespoon should be enough). Let them soak in the juice for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the cloves from the lemon juice. Now, rub this mixture on the corn then let the liquid dry off before washing your feet.
- Apply the lemon juice again and repeat several times daily until you get the desired result.
- Place a slice of lemon peel over your corn and secure with a bandage.
- Wear a cotton sock over the bandage and leave overnight.
- Remove the socks and bandage in the morning, and wash the affected area.
- Repeat this process daily until the corn disappears.
- Mix one tablespoon of brewer yeast with a small quantity of lemon juice to make a paste.
- Take a liberal amount of paste then smudge it on the corn. Make sure to cover the treated area with a bandage. Wait until the next morning before removing the dressing.
- Repeat daily every day before going to bed until the corn heals.
The antioxidant nature of garlic is very helpful in corn treatment and its antifungal and antibacterial properties prevent infection.
Apply garlic on the corn as shown below:
- Rub half a clove of garlic on the corn and let it dry. Dress the treated area and let it stay covered throughout the night.
- When you wake up the next morning, remove the dressing then wash the treated site with warm water.
- Repeat the process daily until the corn completely heals.
- Another way is to crush a few cloves of garlic then mix with a small amount of salt to make a paste.
- Cover the corn with paste and use a bandage to it intact for several days.
- After about day three, try to remove the bandage. The corn should come off with the dressing. Repeat the process if necessary.
- A third option is to make a paste with two garlic cloves, add vinegar. Once the paste is ready, take a small amount to apply on the growth.
- Secure a cotton ball with tape over the corn and leave for two to three hours.
- Remove the cotton ball and clean the area.
- Repeat the process once a day until you heal.
Use turpentine oil to help treat corns as it is a strong antiseptic, penetrates the skin quickly and heals the corns faster. Apply it as follows:
- Massage the corn with ice wrapped in a thin cloth for two minutes then pat dry.
- Rub some turpentine oil onto the corn. Cover the treated area with a clean bandage then remove it the next morning.
- Repeat daily before going to bed to get rid of the callus or corn.
- Melt one fourth of a cup extra virgin coconut oil in the microwave.
- Combine camphor and turpentine oil in the ratio of two tablespoons to one respectively. Add this mixture to the coconut oil and let it cool.
- Keep your feet submerged in warm water and let them soak for a few minutes. Prior to treating the affected area, pat it dry then apply the homemade cream.
- Repeat the process at least 3 times every day until you see an improvement.
- You can store any leftover cream in an airtight jar to keep using it as needed.
Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil is a very good skin moisturizer and in addition to softening hard skin, it helps in intense healing due to its antioxidants. Combining vitamin E with olive oil is one of the best home remedies for corns on the feet. Use these oils to treat corns on the feet as follows:
- Wash your feet and soak them in warm water for some time to soften the skin.
- Mix a few drops of vitamin E and olive oil and rub the mixture gently on the corn on your feet for two to three minutes.
- Wait for two minutes then put on a pair of socks and go to bed.
- Do this every night before you go to bed until you get rid of the corns.
Castor oil is very effective in reducing swellings an also add moisture to dry skin. It is good for treating corns and can heal other skin infections like warts. Castor oil has certain properties that can completely dissolve warts and remove them. Castor oil moisturizes the dry thick rough skin and makes the corn soft.
For an effective remedy for corns on the foot, apply castor oil as follow:
- Clean your feet before you go to bed or soak in warm water and pat dry.
- Use a non-medicated pad that does not contain any chemicals and is safe to use.
- Place the pad over the corn and apply a thin layer of castor oil on the corn through the hole on the pad. You can use cotton swab or ball to apply the oil.
- Cover the corn with adhesive tape and leave overnight.
- Repeat the process daily until the corns are gone.
Turmeric has properties that reduce inflammation and soreness on the skin and can treat various medical conditions. In the Hindu medical system, Ayurveda, mustard oil paste and turmeric are the ingredients needed to treat corns on the feet.
To get the best results you can apply the paste as follows:
- Heat and warm mustard oil, add turmeric powder and stir for two to three minutes until you get a paste.
- Let it cool then apply to the corns on the toes. Wrap a bandage around the corn to keep the paste in place and leave overnight.
- In the morning remove the bandage and wash off the paste with water and mild soap.
- Repeat the process every night before you go to bed until the corns are gone.
Precaution: Both turmeric and mustard oil can leave stains on your clothes and skin and it is advisable to use an old bed-sheet to sleep on after you apply the paste. The stains on your skin will go away after a few days.
Willow bark contains salicin, a natural ingredient that can substitute salicylic acid, and has anti-inflammation/pain relieving properties. It’s used to treat corns on the toes and can be applied as follows:
- Mix willow bark powder, lemon juice and some water to make a paste. The acid in lemon juice helps in speeding up softening of the skin.
- Apply the paste on the corn secure with a bandage and leave overnight.
- Remove the bandage in the morning and clean affected area.
- Repeat the daily until you get rid of the corn.
Precaution: Keep willow bark paste away from healthy skin as it could cause irritation.
Other natural home remedies you can use to treat and heal corns on the feet and hands include:
- Celandine Herb or Chelidonium majus is an herbaceous perennial plant native to Europe, Western Asia and can be found in North America. This plant produces an orange colored juice that is rich in chelerythrine and sanguinarine, two chemical compounds known to dissolve corns on toes and feet.
- Pineapple, Papaya and Fig: All three fruits contain enzymes that can dissolve proteins and this property greatly helps to soften and remove corns from the feet and hands.
Over the Counter Solutions
There are a number of over the counter remedies available but the best solution is to see a doctor who will provide you with a wide range of medical options. Some of the OTC solutions include:
Corn pads provide a secure padding around the corn to avoid pressure, and have a hole you can place over the corn. Commercial corn pads are the easiest way to get rid of corns but they contain salicylic acid that can be harmful for people who suffer from diabetes, fragile skin or blood circulation problems. Salicylic acid in corn caps breaks down the thick tissue in corns, and in doing so leads to a burn that can cause an infection.
Silicone Foam Wedges
These specially made silicone foam wedges are placed between the toes to help reduce pressure and friction.
You can purchase antibiotic ointments, from your pharmacist, and use them together with the other home remedy methods to help prevent infections.
Shoes play a big part in the health of your feet. Wearing the wrong size and type of shoes is one of the main factors that legs to developing corns and calluses on the feet.
To prevent the discomfort and pain that corns/calluses can cause, you need to take care of your feet and hands by practicing the tips provided below:
- Make sure you choose shoes that are the right size, well-padded and have a wide toe box.
- Take new shoes to a cobbler if they pinch on a particular spot, so that he can use tools to expand the shoes and reduce friction that can lead to corns.
- Go shoe shopping in the later part of the day, when the temperature is higher, to get the right shoe size. Feet tend to swell when it is hot.
- Wash your feet every day, with soap and a scrubbing brash or pumice stone, to remove dead skin cells. Apply foot cream to hydrate when they dry.
- Coat your feet with petroleum jelly before you put on socks when you start your day, or before you go to bed to reduce friction and soften hard skin.
- Apply deodorizing foot powder preferably those with aluminum chloride hexahydrate or antiperspirant to reduce sweating for people with sweaty feet.
- Always wear thick cotton socks that absorb pressure on the foot, fit properly and do not have seams that rub against the feet and toes.
- Trim your toenails regularly as long toe nails may press against the shoe and cause the top part of the toe to bend, rise and rub against the shoe.
- You should wear open shoes or sandals whenever possible so that your feet can breathe.
- Make sure you wear protective gloves when doing manual work or activities that may cause friction to the hands and fingers.
- Use a pick when playing string musical instruments like the guitar.
- For patients that have any existing foot disorder or deformity, health experts may prescribe the use of padded shoe inserts or orthotics to prevent recurring bouts of callus and corn growths.
- Your doctor may also recommend surgery to correct the alignment of a bone that is causing friction.
If you’ve tried all the above remedies and prevention tips and your corns keep on recurring, go to a doctor and get professional help. Your physician will be able to diagnose the underlying condition properly and treat you using other medications or provide advice on the best steps you need to take to eliminate the problem.