Corns

What are corns?

Corns are small areas of thickened, hardened skin with a central core usually found on the feet. Corns are caused by pressure or friction such as that caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. On the feet they often occur between the fourth and fifth toes, on the outside of the little toes, and on the sole of the foot. Corns can be annoying and if they are deep they can be painful.

What treatment is available?

It is possible to remove corns but it is also important to identify what is causing them or they will come back. For example, if corns are the result of wearing shoes that do not fit properly, buying a new pair may prevent more corns from forming.

Cushioning the area to protect it can relieve and redistribute the pressure and thereby relieve pain. Moleskin or foam pads, sometimes with holes in the centre, are available for this purpose.

Soaking corns in warm water may soften the skin enough to allow gradual removal of the corn with a pumice stone or emery board over a number of days. If this doesn't work preparations containing salicylic acid are available to buy over the counter from a pharmacist. These preparations soften the skin allowing the corn to be pared down.

When using salicylic acid preparations you should take care not to apply them to the healthy skin surrounding a corn as it may burn. Salicylic acid preparations should not be used by people with diabetes without first consulting a doctor. If you have diabetes you should visit a chiropodist regularly for check-ups and any treatment that may be required. If you are elderly or suffer from persistent corns you should also consult a chiropodist.

Fact sheet provided by MIMS

Date last reviewed: September 2016


MIMS Clinics

Prescribing news and resources for key therapeutic areas, collated by the MIMS editors.

Register or Subscribe to MIMS

GPs can get MIMS print & online and GPonline for free when they register online – take 2 minutes, and make sure you get your free MIMS access! If you're not a GP, you can subscribe to MIMS for full access.

Register or subscribe

MIMS bulletins

News and updates straight to your inbox.

Prescribing Update: Fortnightly news bulletin
Alert:
Urgent prescribing updates
Spotlight: Disease-themed monthly round-up

Sign me up

MIMS Dermatology

Read the latest issue online exclusively on MIMS Learning.

Read MIMS Dermatology

Mobile apps

MIMS: access the full drug database and quick-reference tables on the go

MIMS Diagnosis and Management: concise information on signs and symptoms, investigations and diseases

Promo Image

Clinical calculators

Handy calculators and conversions for primary care.