What is the difference between a corn and a verruca?

Corns, calluses, blisters, verrucas – they’re all the same thing, right? Actually they’re not, and understanding their differences could help you get the treatment you need. Treating these conditions incorrectly could do more harm than good, but alternatively, leaving the problem to sort itself could also make it worse. 

Below, you can find out more information about corns versus verrucas, including what each condition is and how to tell the difference.

What is a corn?

A corn is a hard, yellow bump that’s usually found on the sole of your foot. They’re caused by friction or pressure, and so you might be more susceptible to corns if: 

  • Your shoes don’t fit properly or offer little cushioning
  • You wear high heels frequently
  • You undertake high-impact sports, like running
  • You spend a lot of time standing up or on your feet

You can find out more about what corns are here

What is a verruca?

Verrucas (which are also sometimes called plantar warts) generally affect the soles of the feet and are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This means they are contagious and can be passed from person-to-person by walking barefoot in shared spaces. 

They look like a small circular area of hardened skin, with lots of black dots on the surface. These dots are clotted blood vessels caused by the virus, and the area may be painful to walk on. 

You can most commonly contract a verruca by walking barefoot in public or shared spaces where other people are also walking barefoot. A prime example of this is changing rooms and swimming pools.

The differences between a corn and a verruca

So now you know what each of these foot conditions are, what are their key differences so you can tell them apart?

Firstly, corns and verrucas may look slightly different to one another. The distinctions are small, but they are there. Corns may be slightly yellow in colour and will slightly protrude from the surface of the foot. They may have a conical shape. Verrucas, in contrast, generally lie flatter against the skin and aren’t quite as yellow as a corn. Their biggest identifiable feature is small black dots on the surface of the skin, as a corn won’t usually have these. 

Secondly, you may be able to tell which one you have by the pain it causes you. Verrucas tend to hurt when you pinch them and sometimes when you apply pressure. It may feel like you’re being stabbed by a small needle. Corns, however, will hurt when pressure is applied (such as putting all your weight on one foot). 

Finally, you can check for identifying lines in the skin. Much like a fingerprint, the sole of your feet has certain identifiable lines. If you have a corn, you’ll continue to see these lines, even with hardened skin, however with a verruca, these lines might be much fainter or not there at all. 

Verrucas and Corns treatment

As corns and verrucas are caused by different things, their treatment will differ too.

Gel insoles can help with corns, as they diminish the shock on the ball of your foot. The ZeroSole Reliever insoles relieve the pressure that causes the corn instead of just softening them, and they can be customised to direct pressure away from the corn. You should avoid using corn plasters, as these contain salicylic acid that can burn the skin. 

For verrucas, treatment is not always needed as they usually go away on their own with time. If your verruca is painful then you might want to consider treating it. There are various creams, sprays and plasters you can buy. However, the NHS advises that these may take up to three months to work and don’t guarantee results. If the problem persists, a GP may try freezing the verruca so it falls off. 

What is the difference between a corn and a verruca?
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What is the difference between a corn and a verruca?
Wondering whether you have a corn or a verruca on the bottom of your foot? They can look quite similar but also have some identifiable differences.
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About the author

Heather Smart

Heather began innovating offloading insoles and orthotic devices for diabetic foot ulcers as undergraduates. Her research provided instrumental data which sparked off further R&D projects relating to the ZeroSole Reliever insole, all of which has paved the way to developing numerous disruptive products, not just in the pharmaceutical retail sector, but in the medical sector too. As a founder, Heather is on a mission to make ZeroSole the go-to brand for innovative offloading (pressure-relieving) technologies that are effective, simple and easy to use.