Corns & Callus: Causes & Treatment

24 Aug 2023 | Skin & Toenails

Corns and calluses can really be a pain in the foot!

“I have this little corn under my foot”

“oh, it’s not a big issue, just thickened skin that keeps coming back”

“it feels like there’s a stone in between my toes”

“something inside my foot”.

Prior to seeing me, a person may have been to their GP, bought over the counter products, changed shoes and worse… stopped doing their activities in the hopes of reducing the pain!

It’s no doubt corns and calluses are one of the most common conditions of the foot. They are easily diagnosed in a clinic setting, however their treatment is a more complex than their presentation.

Once I have had a look (made sure it is a corn or callus), I take my patient through a treatment journey… a conversation covering some of the causes and treatments of corns and calluses:

Skin thickens as a protective response to excessive pressure



CAUSE: Inappropriate / tight / pointy shoes increase pressure on the tops and sides of toes and under the ball of the foot.
TREATMENT: Better fitting shoes that accommodate the shape of your foot. Choosing shoes that have a softer material around the toes. Avoiding hard shoes with seams that press against the toes.

CAUSE: Foot deformities / hammer toes / bunions result in lumps and bumps that either press against shoes or that create unusual high pressure areas under the foot.
TREATMENT: We can offload the high pressure spot with padding or custom made silicone devices, particularly when surgery is not an option. However, sometimes orthopaedic surgery, to straighten the clawing toe, may be more appropriate. Custom foot orthoses can also be useful.

CAUSE: Loss of fat pad under the foot is a loss of protection which means that the skin takes over and thickens in the absence of the fatty cushion.
TREATMENT: Placing cushioning and padding materials inside shoes in some cases and in other cases, custom foot orthoses are more appropriate.

CAUSE: Inefficient biomechanics (how your feet move) can create high pressures in area of the foot that are not supposed to have such high pressures.
TREATMENT: Custom foot orthoses are able to offload high pressure areas. Pressure is redistributed to other areas of the foot by increasing the efficiency of how the foot moves.

Check out this video where we answer some frequently asked questions.

Besides addressing the cause of the corns and callus, I will always shave down the callus and remove the corn with a scalpel blade. This is not surgery, we do not go into the deep layers of skin and excise the corn, we remove the hard centre piece of the corn. This is the best part! Patients often experience immediate relief and do a little dance when they stand up!

“When our feet hurt, we hurt all over” – SOCRATES.

So that tiny corn under the foot? Deserves a thorough treatment too!


Written by
Eullenda Phephenyane
BHS Podiatric Medicine (UJ)
Podiatry Association of South Africa (member)


Corns and callus causes and treatment
Corns and callus causes and treatment