Column: Callus, corn or wart?


Commentary by Dr. David Sullivan

After a summer spent with your feet less covered, you may have noticed spots of hard or thick skin on your feet. Since corns, calluses and warts may all look similar, I’m here to share how to tell the difference and discuss treatment options.


Calluses show up as rough, thick areas typically on the bottom of your feet and are yellowish or pale. Often bigger and wider than corns with less defined edges, they’re common on the heels, balls of the feet and the bottom of the big toes. If they get large enough, calluses can hurt your feet.

For small calluses, a pumice stone and good moisturizers may soften up the rough skin. But to prevent calluses from getting larger, you’ll have to take off the pressure from them. Socks and shoes should fit properly, and more supportive shoes may be needed to prevent calluses from forming. Orthotics can help prevent calluses from growing larger since they target pressure points.


A corn is a type of callus, made of dead skin. They tend to be harder, usually smaller and have a core at their center. Corns usually hurt more and tend to form on or between your toes. We can help by padding them, and we can even remove corns.

If corns or calluses become painful or inflamed, you’ll want to contact our office. Individuals with diabetes, fragile skin, poor circulation or nerve problems and numbness in the feet should seek medical advice before trying any treatment.


Warts form on the top of your feet, or on your soles. Warts may appear as bumps or may be skin-colored, pink or brown. Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet and look like small, clogged blood vessels with black dots or tiny seeds. Warts are caused by an infection.

Some over the counter treatments may be effective, but you’re more likely to find a permanent solution with in-office options.


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