Corns & Callus

What is a corn?

Corns are small areas of thickened skin caused by pressure or friction. They are usually no bigger than the size of a small pea and can develop anywhere on the foot, including the sole (bottom) of the foot, on the toes (digital) or in between the toes (interdigital). Corns are not often serious, but can be painful, usually when pressure is applied to them such as when walking or from rubbing in footwear. There are 5 types of corns: 

  • Hard corns (Heloma Durum)
  • Soft corns (Heloma Molle)
  • Seed corns (Heloma Mille)
  • Vascular corns
  • Neurovascular corns

What is a callus?

Similar to a corn, a callus is also an area of thickened skin caused by pressure or friction. Calluses differ from corns in appearance in that they are usually broader and more shallow, covering a larger surface area compared to corns, which are much smaller in size. Sometimes you may have a combination of both, where a corn sits in the centre of an area of callus.

What causes a corn?

What causes a callus and what causes a corn are the same thing: increased pressure on that particular area of the foot. This could be caused by deformities (e.g., bunions or clawed toes), foot mechanics (how you walk) or ill-fitting footwear.

What products can help you?

How to treat a corn

In many cases, corn treatments are simple and can be done at home. If you’re wondering how to treat a callus, the same principles apply as both are caused by the same things.

Do ✓

  • Relieve pressure: This tackles the cause and will reduce pain by shielding the corn from harmful pressure – by using the ZeroSole Reliever insole for corns on the sole of the foot or ZeroSole Toe Guards for digital and inter-digital corns. It is also important to check that your shoes fit correctly (not too tight or too loose) and have plenty of support and cushioning. 
  • Hydrate and moisturise: Urea-based creams (ranging from 10-30% concentrations) will soften the corns and help to reduce hard skin build-up, making the corn more comfortable.
  • File: Regular filing using a hand file will reduce any overlying hard skin, reducing discomfort.


Don’t X

  1. Do not attempt to cut out corns yourself.
  2. Do not wear high heels or tight, pointy toed shoes.
  3. Avoid walking barefoot.


If these steps do not improve your condition after a few weeks, then you may need to visit a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, who can offer corn or callus treatments on a regular basis to keep your feet more comfortable. 

When to see your GP

It is recommended that you consult your GP if you have a corn or callus AND

  • You have diabetes: If you have diabetes, a corn or callus can lead to much more serious conditions, such as wounds or infections.
  • You have heart disease or poor circulation: Poor circulation may prevent your corn from healing, increasing your risk of wounds and infections.
  • It bleeds, or looks infected (red, hot, swollen, or has pus or discharge)
  • The corn or callus is causing you severe pain


Hard Corns (Heloma Durum): 

Hard corns are usually no bigger than the size of a small pea, with a thickened, hard or dry layer of skin (callus) overlying them. These can be found around prominent joints, such as on the tops of toes, on the ends of the toes and on the sole of the foot. 

Soft Corns (Heloma Molle)

These corns can be found in between your toes (interdigital) and are usually white in appearance with a rubbery texture. They can come from the increased moisture that is usually present between the toes. Soft corns are also caused by pressure and friction, usually from neighbouring toes rubbing together.

Seed Corns (Heloma Mille)

Seed corns  look like tiny, miniature versions of hard corns which are usually found on the soles of your feet, more commonly if the skin is very dry. These can develop singularly or in clusters. 

Vascular Corns

Vascular corns  can be hard or soft with blood vessels within them, which means they can bleed very easily. It usually takes a greater amount of pressure or friction to cause a vascular corn compared to hard or soft corns. 

Neurovascular corns

Neurovascular corns are very similar to vascular corns, but with increased nerve involvement. This makes the corn much more painful and they can appear inflamed. It usually requires a greater level of friction or pressure to cause a neurovascular corn compared to hard or soft corns.


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