Is it Callus or a Corn?

Callus and corns are often very similar, keep reading to find out the difference. 


First up, callus

Callus is the overproduction of our outermost skin cells causing thicker skin. Its technical term is called hyperkeratosis. This can be in the response to mechanical stresses placed on the skin and our body’s way of protecting itself from the increased stresses. These increased stresses can include altered biomechanics causing abnormal pressure distribution on the foot, types of walking surfaces, unsuitable footwear, obesity, atrophy of the fatty padding on our feet and presence of bony prominences. 

What does callus look like?

  • Thickening of the outer layer of skin, the thicker it is the more yellow it appears 
  • Can be diffuse or localised 
  • Texture can vary, sometimes can be rubbery to dry and flaking 
  • Symptoms can vary from no pain to severe aching and burning 


Common areas for this to occur 

  • Underneath the ball of our foot
  • Heels 
  • Tips of the toes 
  • Underneath the big toe 


So, what is a corn then?

There are many different types of corns and the technical term is called a helomata. Corns form in a similar way to callus but usually in response to a concentrated force. The greater degree of stress in a localised area can cause a conical mass to form called a nucleus (looks like an upside down icecream cone when removed), which then can disrupt the skin and put pressure on nerve endings causing pain. 

What does a corn look like? 

  • Yellow callus like, with a darker area which is the nucleus 
  • Nucleus is usually located in the centre, however sometimes there can be multiple nuclei 
  • Almost always painful due to pressure on the nerve endings 

Common areas for this to occur

  • Underneath the ball of our foot 
  • Tops of the toes 
  • Inbetween the toes 
  • On the side of the big toe 
  • Heels 


Can corns and callus be treated? 

The answer is both are easily treatable! Your local podiatrist is able to treat both of these with removal of them with a tool called a scalpel, it does not hurt as they are just debriding dead skin. They will scrape the dead skin away to the appropriate thickness and may smooth it over with a small sanding disk. Please do not try this at home and seek treatment from a professional. 

Your local podiatrist may be able to look at other contributing factors such as footwear and suggest other interventions to assist with their frequency of recurrence such as moisturising your feet daily. 

If you have any questions about corns, callus or wanting to know more, feel free to give us a call on 8468 2411 or via our website here.