What are Corns?

The hard or soft corn or crow’s eye is a preventable foot ailment. Shoes that are too tight, constant friction or chronic pressure cause it. One could describe the corn as a widespread disease. But it is not actually a disease. The tendency to wear orthopedically unsuitable shoes is the real reason why a corn develops.

What are corns?

During foot care, also known as a pedicure, the toenails are shortened and calluses are removed (including corns). On the other hand, medical foot care or podiatry also includes direct treatment of the feet.

According to abbreviationfinder, a corn occurs as a callus on the surface of the toes, on the sides of the toes, or occasionally on the pads. The painful corneal callus is triggered by repeated pressure on the skin on the foot.

If the corn sits between the toes, it is called a corn between the toes.

There are two types of corns:

The hard and the soft. In the degree of pain and in the causes, they do not differ from each other. The treatment of hard or soft corns can be different.


A corn is favored by shoes that are too tight. Constant rubbing of the toes in a shoe that is too tight causes corns between the toes. Rubbing the toe surfaces against the shoe material can also cause a corn – in the worst case one on each toe. The actual cause of corns is bruising of the skin. A corn or several of them are diagnosed much more frequently in women who prefer to wear pointy or tight shoes.

Symptoms & course of the disease

Hard corns usually appear where shoes that are too tight most often cause friction on the foot. It is found on the surfaces of the toes, sometimes on the tips of the toes or on the side of the toes. You can also develop a hard corn on the ball of your foot, where the shoe pinches.

It is about the size of a pea and may be red and shiny. When palpating, the hardness of the corn is noticeable. Its color is yellowish. A nucleus that has grown inwards can be seen under the magnifying glass. The pressure on the core causes the well-known stabbing pain.

The soft corn feels significantly different. It develops for the same reasons and preferably between the toes rubbing against each other. The surface of this corn is rather soft and the hard core is missing. However, the degree of pain is the same for both types of corns.

It increases with friction and perspiration on the foot. People who have flat feet or splayfoot, wear unsuitable shoes or suffer from arthrosis of the joints are more likely to have a corn than people with a healthy foot.

The corn is to be distinguished from a wart caused by viruses in the same places. A corn in diabetes can be dangerous. Here you don’t notice friction and pain as a result of the diabetic foot. In combination with diabetes, the corn can become inflamed and lead to serious consequential damage.


A corn is caused by heavy stress on a specific area, so that the skin is protected from further injury. Of course, such a corn can also cause various complications that may need to be treated by a doctor. In many cases, a corn causes an infection that should usually always be treated with medication.

If the affected area continues to be stressed, an open wound can develop. With an inflamed corn there is always a risk of infection, as bacteria and viruses can lodge in the open wound. For this reason, a doctor should be consulted at the first sign of inflammation. If you do not visit the doctor at this point, the person is in great danger.

The present complication can worsen considerably, so that it can even lead to the formation of pus fluid. Another possible complication is the formation of a fissure. A crack is a deep tear in the skin that unfortunately can no longer heal itself. A visit to the doctor is also essential for this complication.

Otherwise, there may be repeated inflammation, which may show accumulation of pus fluid. However, those who treat the above-mentioned complications with medication at an early stage have a very good chance of a full recovery.

When should you go to the doctor?

If pressure points or skin changes occur on the foot, they can often be treated with independent care. Wearing tight and unhealthy shoes should be avoided and in many cases can already help to improve the symptoms. Foreign objects in the shoes must be removed immediately. In addition, special foot baths and commercially available care products such as ointments or creams are helpful to heal the skin changes. If this does not succeed within a few weeks, a doctor’s visit is advisable. If a corn develops, there is a risk of it spreading without treatment. If the pressure points on the foot increase or spread further, consult a doctor.

If pain occurs when the foot strikes or if there are problems with motor locomotion, medical treatment of the injured area should take place. A doctor should be consulted if the body is malpositioned, unsteady when walking or if the body is subjected to one-sided stress. Muscle complaints, mobility restrictions or problems with the performance of sporting activities must be examined and treated by a doctor. If emotional irregularities set in alongside the physical symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. In the case of mood swings, increased irritability or withdrawal behavior from usual social activities, a doctor’s visit is essential.

Treatment & Therapy

You can treat hard corns yourself by applying a salicylic acid solution. This softens the horn-like hardened surface. After several treatments, the corn can then be carefully removed in warm water. As an alternative to the liquid solution, you can buy corn plasters in the pharmacy or in the drugstore.

However, this treatment is not recommended for soft corns. Diabetics and patients with circulatory disorders should also not use salicylic acid preparations. Going to the podiatrist, orthopaedist, dermatologist or podiatrist can be helpful here. One also goes to these instances if the corn always appears.

Surgery may be necessary for very painful, hard corns with a core that reaches deep inwards. To avoid a new development, a pressure protection or between the toes bandage can be useful. A new corn is thus prevented.


Well-fitting footwear is essential to prevent corns. It must neither rub nor press. If you notice a pressure point in the toe area, you can cushion the corresponding toe as a preventive measure. But it would be better to change the shoe or have it widened. Sometimes orthopedic insoles or special shoes for diabetics help. In addition to the classic friction problem, misaligned toes, foot problems or an inappropriate gait can also lead to a corn.


After the professional removal of the corn, the affected skin area must be protected from pressure and friction. Foam inserts for shoes, soft socks or so-called corn rings made of foam, which are placed on the affected area, are suitable for this. In addition, prophylactic measures must be taken during aftercare to avoid the recurrence of a corn.

In addition to the right footwear, regular foot care is also very important. It is important to wash your feet regularly, apply lotion and remove excess calluses. This prevents excessive stress and corns. Excess calluses can be removed at home.

Calluses can be easily removed with a callus file or pumice stone after a warm foot bath for ten to fifteen minutes. If corns have appeared frequently in the past, regular medical foot care in a podiatry is advisable. If, on the other hand, shoes that are too tight or uncomfortable are suspected to be the cause, it makes sense to consult an orthopedist about the right footwear.

Orthopedic insoles, orthopedic shoes or other orthopedic aids can protect the endangered regions. In addition to protecting the affected area, after the corn has been removed, the primary cause must be eliminated in order to prevent it from recurring.

You can do that yourself

A hard or soft corn is easy to treat yourself. Immediate visit to a specialist is only recommended for diabetics.

As a rule, the corn can be softened with the help of a salicylic acid solution. The solution can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies . Those affected should take foot baths with this solution several times and then try to remove the softened skin. The skin can also be carefully worked on with a pumice stone or a fine-pored foot grater. However, care must be taken not to remove too much skin. If the spot starts to bleed, it provides bacteria and viruses with an outlet and is the basis for inflammation. Diabetics and patients with known circulatory disorders should not use salicylic acid.

Alternatively, special plasters are available in drugstores and pharmacies, which can be stuck onto the affected area. However, the most important point in self-treatment is the right footwear. Shoes that are too tight or materials in which there is a lot of perspiration have a beneficial effect on the development of a corn. Those affected should prefer natural, breathable materials with a comfortable foot width. Special pressure-protection patches – such as those available in shoe stores, drugstores and pharmacies – also prevent a corn from recurring.

In naturopathy, corns are treated with lemon, tea tree oil and onions. These substances also have an anti-inflammatory effect and loosen the callused area of ​​skin.

corn diseases