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Symptoms and Signs of Corns and Calluses

Doctor's Notes on Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are skin conditions that consist of thickenings in the skin in areas of repeated pressure. They are typically located in the feet. Hyperkeratosis is the medical term for the thickened skin of corns and calluses. A callus describes a flatter, more diffuse area of thick skin, while corns are thick, localized bumps that usually have a papular, conical or circular shape. Corns and calluses are caused by increased pressure. This can occur due to abnormal anatomy of the feet, bony prominences in the feet, poorly-fitting footwear, abnormalities in gait or movement.

In addition to thickened skin, other associated symptoms can include pain (for corns) that may interfere with walking, and dry, flaky, or scaling skin.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Corns and Calluses Symptoms

  • Calluses
    • Thickening of skin without distinct borders
    • Most commonly on feet and hands over bony prominences
    • Vary in color from white to gray-yellow, brown, or red
    • May be painless or tender
    • May throb or burn
    • May form cracks (fissures) that are often painful
  • Corns
    • Texture varies from dry, waxy, transparent to a horny mass
    • Distinct borders
    • Most common on toes
    • May be hard or soft
    • Often painful
    • Many different types

Corns and Calluses Causes

  • External factors (outside the body) that can cause calluses and corns from friction and mechanical stress
    • Ill-fitting shoes or socks
    • Bunching of socks or socks with seams by the toes
    • Manual labor
    • Not wearing shoes
    • Activities that increase frictional stress applied to the skin of the hands and feet, such as athletic events
    • Activities involving repetitive motion on the same parts of the body, such as callus forming on hand/finger from playing the guitar
  • Internal factors (within the body) that may lead to the formation of corns and calluses
    • Bony prominences or structural deformities, such as hammertoes and bunions
    • Corns and callus formation at the bottom of the foot, big toe, and ball of the foot are most likely due to abnormal foot mechanics.
    • Faulty foot function such as overpronation or oversupination
    • Damaged sweat glands, scars, and warts (plantar verruca)
    • Frequent wear of open-heel shoes such as flip flops and sandals can cause a callus to form around the heel in a horseshoe pattern

Pedicure Pictures Safety, Toenail Polish Colors, Calluses, Cuticles, and More Slideshow

Pedicure Pictures Safety, Toenail Polish Colors, Calluses, Cuticles, and More Slideshow

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.