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All you need to know

What are corns?

Corns are small areas of thick skin that grow over bony areas from a lack of natural cushioning. Corns usually develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot, but they can occur anywhere on the feet.

The signs

A corn will usually appear as:

  • A small circular patch of skin with a hard inner core, usually found on top of the toes (also called a hard corn)
  • A white, tender area of skin in between the toes (known as a soft corn)
  • A plug-like circle which is painful to walk on, usually found on the ball of the foot (known as a seed corn)

The causes

Corns are often caused by wearing shoes that do not fit correctly - shoes that are too loose may allow your foot to slide and rub. Certain shoe designs, such as high heels, place excessive pressure on an area of the foot and can squeeze the toes, which may cause corns.

How to treat corns

A corn can be a symptom of an underlying problem. You should only treat it yourself if you know the cause and you've spoken to a specialist about the best way to manage it.

The treatment options are:

  • Cushioning pads – to help relieve the pressure pain
  • Salicylic acid plasters and liquids – to help remove the corn. Remember corn plasters may not be suitable for certain people, such as those who suffer with diabetes, have circulation problems or have fragile skin
  • Moisturising urea creams – to be used in conjunction with an exfoliator such as a pumice stone to help soften and remove the corn
  • If you are unsure about whether you have a corn or whether you need corn treatment speak to your doctor, podiatrist or a Boots pharmacist who will be able to help


  • Always wear shoes that fit properly
  • Moisturise your feet regularly to keep skin soft and supple 
  • If you wear high heels for work, give your feet a rest by wearing trainers on your commute
  • Look after your shoes and replace the soles regularly, or buy a new pair when they wear out, to help you walk correctly