Foot Corns

Foot corns - the irritating bumps that can appear on the sides of your toes, at the foot sole and in between toes, are the result of friction. Foot corns are your body's response to the pressure and irritation your shoes cause as they rub against your feet.

Corns develop from a buildup of dead skin cells that become thick and hard on the foot. They usually appear on the tops, tips, and sides of the toes. The cone-shaped core of a corn places pressure on the nerve below it, which can be very painful. Corns often become more irritated by the steady rubbing and pressure from your shoes.

Types of Foot Corns

  1. Hard Corns, and
  2. Soft Corns

A hard corn is most commonly located on the second through fifth toes and is hard to the touch. Occasionally, a hard corn may appear on other toes.

A soft corn typically shows up between the fourth and fifth toes.

What causes Corns?

Foot corns can be painful and aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing, but a foot corn does provide protection against contact with an offending surface - usually an ill-fitting shoe. Women, who often wear poorly fitting shoes in the name of fashion, develop corns more often than men.

Some of the most common reasons people develop corns are:

  • Having toes that are deformed
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Wearing socks or stockings that are too tight
  • Shoes with narrow toe boxes, especially women's dress shoes
  • Increased moisture trapped between toes
  • Toe friction inside shoes or socks
  • Pressure of high-heeled shoes
  • Contracted Toes (Hammertoes)


Foot corns, thickened patches of dead skin that commonly emerge on toe knuckles, especially the pinky toe - are concentrated and feel much harder than the surrounding skin.

You can recognize a corn by asking the following questions:

  1. Do you have a small patch of excess skin on a toe?
  2. Is there an area on your toe that feels hard?
  3. Do any patches of skin on your feet seem higher than the smooth skin surface?

Relief and Prevention Tips for avoiding foot corns

The following may help to both prevent and treat corns:

  • Start wearing properly fitted shoes.
  • Stop wearing shoes that inflict pressure or irritation.
  • Limit the length of time you wear high heels, or stop wearing them altogether.
  • Use insoles and inserts in your shoes to combat pressure points and rubbing.
  • Surgical correction of contracted toes (Hammertoe correction)
  • Wear socks and stockings that fit comfortably
  • Orthotics

If you already have a corn, try trimming down excess skin with pedicure files, or applying softening cream to help eliminate discomfort. Also try wearing shoes with a wider toe box to decrease the pressure inflicted on current foot corns.

Although foot corns do not present a long-term or serious health risk, they can be very painful. If changing your shoes and other treatments do not alleviate symptoms, you should see a podiatrist for additional treatment.

Those who have diabetes and poor circulation should not use any chemicals to get rid of corns.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms addressed, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your podiatrist for proper diagnosis.