What is a callus?

A callus (hyperkeratosis), like a corn, is an accumulation of skin that hardens and thickens. It is formed as part of the body’s defence mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure and friction. The callus refers to a more diffuse, flattened area of thick skin, while a corn is a thick, localised area that usual has a conical or circular shape.

Daily life can be hard on the feet. With every step, pressure is applied to the soles of the feet, which can cause calluses to build up.

Calluses form on areas of the foot that are weight bearing and therefore subject to force as you move around. They are normally found on the ball of the foot, heels and/or the side of the big toe and are a common consequence of an active lifestyle.


Some common causes of this increased pressure include:

  • Shoes that are too small
  • High-heels
  • Obesity
  • Abnormalities in the gait/walk
  • Flat, high arched or unusual shaped feet
  • The loss of cushioning on the bottom of the foot


  • The podiatrists at Highett Podiatry can painlessly remove calluses using podiatric tools. Advise on appropriately fitting footwear.
  • Moisturising creams may help reduce the severity and may give relief, but do not treat the underlying cause.
  • Insoles or orthotics may address any underlying biomechanical issues.
  • It is advisable NOT to use corn pads.
  • They contain acid and can cause wounds/ulcers and infection of the feet.
  • This is especially important to adhere to if you have diabetes, circulation problems and nerve damage in your feet. 



The information in this resource is general in nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult a trained professional practising in the area of medicine in relation to any injury or condition. You use or rely on information in this resource at your own risk and no party involved in the production of this resource accepts any responsibility for the information contained within it or your use of that information.