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Corns on the feet are bumps that consist of thick, hardened layers of skin. They tend to form on bony areas of the feet, especially on the tops and sides of toes. Some foot corns have a hard center, also called a core. The bumps are typically round and relatively small. Friction and pressure on the feet are the most common causes of corns. Wearing shoes that slip and rub against the skin on the feet can result in a corn. Shoes that squeeze the feet can also cause corns.

There are three different types of corns:

  • Hard corns are the most common type of foot corn. As the name suggests, hard corns feel hard to the touch. They form most often on the tops of toes.
  • Soft corns are pliable and soft to the touch. They usually form between toes.
  • Seed corns are very small and typically form on the soles of feet.

Contrary to popular belief, corns are not the same thing as calluses although the two are often confused. While both corns and calluses form because of friction and pressure, and both consist of hardened skin, there are some key differences.

  • Calluses are more common on the soles of the feet while corns are more common on the tops and sides of the toes.
  • Calluses tend to be large, covering a significant area of the sole of the foot. Corns, on the other hand, tend to be small.
  • Corns are often painful to the touch while calluses aren’t usually tender or sensitive.
  • There’s often inflammation on or around a corn while calluses don’t usually become inflamed.


Foot corns form due to pressure and friction against bony areas of the feet, usually the toes. The most common culprit of foot corns is ill-fitted shoes that are too loose or too tight. Loose shoes can cause the foot to slide around and rub against the shoe. Tight shoes, on the other hand, can squeeze the feet, including the toes, causing pressure.

Socks that don’t fit right and slip around can cause friction. Wearing shoes without socks can also lead to friction since the foot doesn’t have a protective layer between the skin and shoe.

Individuals with health conditions that cause abnormal alignment of the bones in the feet may be at a higher risk of corns. These conditions include arthritis, bunions and hammertoes.


The best way to prevent foot corns is to reduce pressure and friction on the feet.

  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit well. Your shoes shouldn’t rub against or squeeze your feet. If your shoes are too loose, consider using insoles or heal liners to improve the fit.
  • If you wear high heels, opt for the lowest heel height possible to prevent squeezing your toes into a tight space where they can easily rub against your shoes. Avoid shoes that have pointy-toes as this style of shoe can crowd the toes and increase the risk of corns.
  • If you’re experiencing friction on a specific area of the foot, use a moleskin product such as Scholl’s® Molefoam®Padding Strips or Dr. Scholl’s® Moleskin Plus Padding Roll to protect against rubbing and pressure.
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks with shoes to minimize friction.


Getting rid of foot corns can take time since corns consist of many layers of hardened, thickened skin, which build up over time. The most effective way to remove a corn at home is through gradual and regular exfoliation with physical and chemical exfoliators. Attempting to remove too much of the corn at once could result in irritation, discomfort or even injury.

Following these steps on a weekly basis can help reduce a foot corn through manual exfoliation:

  1. Soak your foot in warm water for several minutes in order to soften the corn.
  2. Gently exfoliate the corn with either a pumice stone or foot file to remove the top layers of the corn. Avoid removing too much of the corn in one sitting.

Chemical exfoliation with a salicylic acid corn treatment can be done once or twice a day for up to two weeks. You can apply liquid corn treatment directly to a corn. Dr. Scholl’s® Liquid Corn/Callus Remover contains a maximum strength salicylic acid formulation for fast and effective corn removal. The package also contains corn cushions to protect the corn and ease pressure from shoes.

You can also opt for Dr. Scholl’s® One Step Corn Removers for mess-free corn treatment. This convenient product combines a discreet bandage with a built in medicated disc. The bandage is designed to stay in place all day. For additional protection, Dr. Scholl’s® Corn Removers with DURAGEL® consist of a medicated disc along with a cushion that fits over the disc and stays in place like a bandage. The cushion helps reduce pain and pressure while the medication works to remove the corn.

If your corn doesn’t go away with home treatments or if it’s causing severe pain, see your doctor. Some corns require evaluation and treatment from a specialist. A podiatrist can remove a corn with a specialized tool. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting to remove a foot corn.



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a foot corn?

A foot corn is a small, round bump that consists of hardened, thickened layers of skin. Corns form most often on the sides or tops of the toes as a result of friction, usually from shoes. Corns are often confused with calluses but there’s a difference. While both corns and calluses are typically caused by friction and produce thickened skin, calluses tend to form on the soles of the feet and cover a larger area. Corns tend to be smaller than calluses, and they may have a hard center or core. Corns can be painful and tender to the touch or when pressure is applied. The area around the corn may be inflamed. Calluses, on the other hand, aren’t usually painful or swollen.

There are several types of corns:

  • Hard corns – This type of corn, the most common type, is hard and dry. Hard corns are usually found on the tops of toes.
  • Soft corns – This type of corn is soft and malleable. Soft corns tend to be found in between toes.
  • Seed corns – This type of corn tends to be very small and is usually found on the sole of the foot. Some doctors think that seed corns may be caused by sweat duct blockages.

What does a corn on the foot look like?

A corn on your foot looks like thick, hardened skin which may have a hard center, like a plug or a core. Hard corns are dry and hard while soft corns are soft and spongy. There may be inflammation around the corn.

How to get rid of a corn on the foot

  1. Using a foot bath, soak the feet for several minutes in warm water. This will soften the corn so that it’s easier to exfoliate.
  2. Gently exfoliate the corn using either a foot file or a pumice stone. Try to avoid removing too much of the corn at once as this can cause irritation.
  3. Apply a foot cream to moisturize the skin on and around the corn.
  4. Apply a liquid corn removal treatment product with salicylic acid.
  5. Protect the corn with a corn cushion. You can also use a combination product which treats the corn with salicylic acid while protecting the area with a soft cushion.

Repeat these steps at least once a week until the corn is gone. If the corn persists and is causing pain, see your doctor. In some cases, it may be necessary to have a podiatrist evaluate the corn. A podiatrist can use a special instrument to remove layers of the corn until it’s gone.

Foot corns will often go away on their own once the friction that caused the corn in the first place has been eliminated. Follow these tips to prevent corns from getting worse and to help prevent new corns from forming.

  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes that don’t rub against the skin when you walk.
  • Wear socks with shoes to cut down on friction. Moisture-wicking socks are especially effective at preventing friction.
  • Keep toenails trim. When toenails are too long, the toes can be forced up against the shoes, causing rubbing when walking and running.

How to remove corn from foot

  • Take several minutes to soak your feet in warm water. This can be done in the bath or shower.
  • Using a foot file or a pumice stone, gently exfoliate the top layers of the corn. Take care not to be too aggressive as this can cause discomfort and irritation.
  • Apply a treatment product for corns that contains salicylic acid. You can also treat the corn using a cushion/treatment combo product. The cushions protect the corn while the treatment product eliminates layers of the corn.

How to dig out a corn on foot

Never try to dig out a foot corn as this can cause injury to the skin, increasing the risk of infection. It’s best to eliminate a corn little by little with exfoliation using a pumice stone or foot file. You can also use a corn treatment containing salicylic acid. If your corn is persistent or causing pain, see your healthcare provider. A doctor can remove a corn in layers using a special instrument. Removing the entire corn may require several appointments.

Can you pull a corn out of your foot?

No, you cannot pull a corn out of your foot. If you want to eliminate a foot corn, you’ll need to reduce it little by little over time by gently exfoliating with a foot file or a pumice stone, or by using a corn removal product that contains salicylic acid. You should not attempt to remove a corn all at once as this can cause irritation or injury. See your doctor if your corn doesn’t go away despite at-home efforts or if it’s causing pain. Doctors can use a special corn removal tool in order to eliminate a corn. However, it may take several attempts to eliminate the corn entirely.