Learn About Ailments | Corns


A corn also known as a clavus is a callused area of thick dead skin created on the foot where underlying bone presses down. These patches of thick skin can be painful to walk on & are commonly found over the metatarsal arch (ball of the foot) & on the outside of the foot where skin rubs against the shoe. Hard corns appear on dry parts of skin & soft corns on areas of skin that are usually moist (between the toes).‘Corn’ is derived from the Latin word ‘cornu’ which translates as hoof or horn.

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Corns are a painful type of callus which appear on the foot. Unlike a callus, a corn is separate from the surrounding area of skin. There are two common types of corn: hard corns and soft corns.
  • Hard corns – this is the most common type and is a concentrated area of dry skin that often occurs on the toes.
  • Soft corns – this type of corn is more painful and develops mainly between the toes. Soft corns are caused by exposure to moisture and can become infected by bacteria or fungi.
Other less common types of corn include:
  • Seed corns – painless clusters of corns that appear on the sole of the foot
  • Vascular corns – corns that appear on blood vessels and which bleed if cut
  • Fibrous corns – chronic corns that attach to deep layers of skin
Corns occur due to constant pressure on the bony areas of the feet. This can be due to a number of reasons, the most common of which include:
  • Badly fitted footwear – shoes that are too tight, too small or have irregular shaped soles (e.g. high heels) commonly cause corns.
  • Sport and exercise – people who exercise regularly such as athletes are prone to corns due to excessive pressure being placed on the foot.
  • Foot abnormalities – feet or toes that have developed abnormally can press against shoes causing corns.
  • Broken toes or bones in the foot – a fracture can set a bone out of place causing the foot to press against the shoes.

Corns are typically regular in shape and can appear grey, white or yellow in colour. They usually form on the outside of the first or fifth toes but can form anywhere on the bony areas of the foot. Soft corns form between the toes.

If you have corns, pain is usually experienced when walking or wearing shoes.

If you are experiencing persistent foot pain visit your GP and they will examine your foot for signs of corns. They may ask about the type of shoes you regularly wear and if you've had any previous surgery on your feet.

Corns can be mistaken for verrucas and the GP may remove the top layer of skin to check for blood vessels which would be present with a verruca.

If your problem is severe, you may be referred to a podiatrist who will check for any foot abnormalities. If a problem with the foot's structure is suspected then you may require an X-ray to see if this the cause of your corns. You may also need a foot pressure pattern test, known as a 'pedobarograph'.

  • Hyperkeratosis
  • Calluses
  • Blisters
  • Verrucas
  • Hammertoes
  • Plantar warts
  • Tyloma
  • Skin ulceration
  • Pumice stone

  • Therapies to consider
    Herbal Medicine Podiatry (Chiropody)


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