What is a corn?

A corn is an area of thickened skin that occurs in areas of pressure or friction. When shoes rub on the toes and heels, it can result in corns. Whilst seemingly a minor skin condition, it can be incredibly painful, especially if the friction that created them continues.

Corns are one of the most common problems seen by us here at Highett Podiatry.



Corns are caused by too much pressure and usually in combination with some friction. The development of a corn is a normal and natural way for the body to protect itself by increasing the amount of skin in the area so that you don’t rub a hole in it.

When too much skin forms, the increased layers of dead skin cells on the foot form a thick, hardened cone-shaped core, and can develop into what we call a corn. This hard area can feel as hard as a rock and can put extra pressure on the skin below. This can cause inflammation of the tissue beneath the corn and press on nerves leading to pain, discomfort and even bleeding.

Too much pressure can result from:

  • Footwear that is too tight
  • Toe deformities such as hammer toes Bony prominence


Prevention of Corns

Corns are easy to prevent if you take away the cause and that cause is excessive pressure:

  • Having your feet professionally measured before buying new shoes to ensure perfect fit for your feet.
  • Aim to shop for shoes towards the end of the day. Your feet swell the most in the afternoon and this is a good indication of what shoes will rub and lead to corns.
  • Keep shoes in good condition. Worn shoes provide less protection and padding to absorb the shock of force when your foot hits the ground.
  • Wear socks to protect your feet and socks made of natural fibres will allow your skin to breathe and cushion your feet.
  • Keep feet dry, particularly in between toes where corns can pop up from regular rubbing of the skin inside shoes. Dry feet are less prone to friction.


Treatment of Corns

Corns can become serious if left untreated as they can lead to infection and other foot problems. Self-treatment is not recommended. The use of ‘corn plasters’ in those who are at risk or have frail skin are very likely to cause an ulcer which could become infected and if the circulation is poor, an amputation is a possibility.

Cutting corns yourself (bathroom surgery) is not without its dangers, especially if you cut yourself. In the warm, moist environment of your enclosed shoes can easily cause infection to develop into a serious wound.

Corns are easy to take out, however the reason they keep coming back is that the cause is still there and that cause is – pressure. If the pressure is not removed, they will come back. 



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.