Treating corns and calluses

Treating painful corns and calluses involves removing the cause of the pressure or friction and getting rid of the thickened skin.

Youmay be advised to wear comfortable flat shoes instead of high-heeled shoes. If calluses develop on the hands,wearing protectivegloves during repetitive tasks willgive the affected area time to heal.

If you're notsure what's causing a corn or callus, seeyour GP. They may refer you to a podiatrist (also called a chiropodist). Podiatrists specialise in diagnosing and treating foot problems. They'll examine the affected areaand recommend appropriate treatment.

See below for more information about podiatry and how to access iton the NHS.

Hard skin removal

A podiatrist may cut away some of the thickened skin using a sharp blade called a scalpel. This helps torelieve pressure on the tissue underneath.

Don'ttry to cut the corn or callus yourself. You could make it more painfulandit mightbecome infected. You can use a pumice stone or foot file to rub down skin that's getting thick.

Ask your GP, podiatrist or pharmacist to recommend the rightproduct for you.

Examples of products that can be used totreat corns and calluses include:

  • specialrehydration creams forthickened skin
  • protective corn plasters
  • customised soft padding or foam insoles
  • small foam wedges that areplaced between thetoes to help relieve soft corns
  • special silicone wedges that change the position ofyour toes or redistribute pressure

Salicylic acid

Some over-the-counter products used to treat corns and calluses may contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is used tohelp soften the top layer of dead skin so it can be easilyremoved. The products are mild and shouldn't cause any pain.

Salicylic acidproducts are availablefor direct application (such as a liquid or gel) or in medicated padsor plasters.

It's important to avoidproducts containing salicylic acidif you have:

  • a condition that causes problems with circulation such as diabetes , Peripheral arterial disease or peripheral neuropathy
  • cracked or broken skin on or around the corn or callus
  • fragile skin

This is because there's an increased risk of damage to your skin, nerves and tendons.

Salicylic acid can sometimes damage the skin surrounding a corn or callus.You can use petroleum jelly or a plaster to cover the skin around the corn or callus.

Always read the instructions carefully before applying the product. Speak to your GP, podiatrist or pharmacist first if you're not sure which treatment is suitable.


Podiatry is availablefree of charge on the NHS in most areas of the UK. However,availability may vary depending on where you live.

Your case will be assessedindividually, which may affect how long you'll need to wait to be seen. For example, people with severe diabetes are often given priority because the condition can cause serious foot problems to develop.

If free NHS treatment isn't available in your area, your GP can still refer you to a local clinic for private treatment,but you'll have to pay.

If you decide to contact a podiatrist yourself, make sure they're fully qualified andregistered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and an accredited member of one of the following organisations:

  • British Chiropody and Podiatry Association
  • The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
  • The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016