What are corns and calluses, and what’s the difference between the two of them?
Basically, corn and calluses are the formation of hard and thickened areas of skin at places of excess pressure and friction, and are one of the body’s protection mechanisms. There are many examples in everyday life of this process in action – the thickened skin on the palms of weightlifters, for example, or on the balls of the feet of women who favour tap-dancing. But while this protection mechanism often does just what it says on the tin – protect the body – it can also become problematic. If the skin becomes too thick and hard, it can cause pain when walking or standing, or in any situation where excess pressure is applied.
Corns are well-defined and cone shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down into the skin - in fact, it’s this central core of hard skin that distinguishes a corn from a callus, and what can make a corn very painful. Also, corns tend to occur on bony parts of the feet, especially on the outside of the little toe and the top of the other toes. Calluses, on the other hand, don’t have this central core of hardened skin – they’re more dispersed and less well-defined than corns. Yellowish in colour, they normally form on the bony area of the sole of the foot, just beneath the toes, or on the heel. Although calluses aren’t generally very painful, they can hurt if the build-up is sufficient.