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The Difference Between Corns and Calluses

People often refer to corns and calluses as if they’re the same condition. However, they’re actually two different issues. While neither is dangerous, they can be incredibly uncomfortable when ignored. They can also put your feet at risk if you have a medical condition that affects your circulation or ability to heal, such as diabetes.

John Jurcisin, DPM, is a seasoned podiatrist and foot surgeon at Precision Footcare in Midtown East, New York City. In this blog, he discusses the distinctions between corns and calluses and how to resolve these common problems.

Defining corns and calluses

The reason why people confuse corns and calluses is because they have a lot in common. 

Both cause hard, thickened areas of skin on your feet. And, both can be quite painful, even making you feel as if you’re walking on rocks or stones. However, despite these similarities, they also have distinct differences.


Corns typically develop on smooth, hairless areas of your feet, especially the tops or sides of your toes. They form from dead skin and often appear as small, circular shapes with a clearly defined center. A corn can be hard or soft, whitish in color, or have a rubbery texture.


Unlike corns, calluses typically look yellow or pale and feel lumpy. They often appear on the soles of your feet, the bony spots underneath your toes, or your hands, elbows, or knees. These thickened areas of skin are usually bigger than corns and don’t have defined edges. It’s also common for them to have a lumpy feel and less sensitivity than other areas of skin.

Preventing corns and calluses

Corns and calluses form to help protect the skin from pressure, rubbing, or other types of irritation. But you can take steps to avoid them, such as:

You should also treat other foot problems and deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes, which can increase your chances of developing corns and calluses.

Treating corns and calluses

Sometimes, you can resolve corns and calluses at home with over-the-counter products, such as pumice stones or protective pads. However, if you have a lot of pain, other foot problems, or medical conditions, such as diabetes, Dr. Jurcisin recommends scheduling an appointment.

Depending on your condition, Dr. Jurcisin can suggest a variety of treatments, including removing the hardened skin by trimming it. If you have an infection — or the risk of one developing — he may also prescribe an antibiotic ointment.

If you have other foot issues that are causing corns or calluses to form, Dr. Jurcisin will develop a personalized treatment strategy to address those problems, too.

If you’re looking for help with corns or calluses, book an appointment online or over the phone with Precision Footcare today.

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