Corns can be painful and unsightly, but they are nothing to worry about and, in most cases, are simple to remove. This article explains what causes them and the easy steps you can take to help prevent them. We also look at how best to remove them, and how to prevent them from forming in the future.

What causes corns on toes and feet?

Skin is made up of several layers. The outermost layer, the epidermis, acts as a protective barrier for the deeper, more sensitive layers of the skin.

If the skin on our feet is exposed to permanent pressure and friction – for example, from ill-fitting shoes – it reacts by thickening the epidermis which results in calloused skin. If pressure persists, especially in a specific spot, this calloused skin can form a corn.

Corns have a hard core that reaches the deeper, sensitive skin structures and are painful when pressed. The most painful form of corn is the type where the corn becomes entwined with the nerves of the skin.

Corns between toes
Corns mostly appear on toes due to pressure

Corns are most common on the outside of toes or on the side of a bunion – the areas that experience most rubbing from shoes – but can also appear on the soles of feet. When they appear between toes, where the skin is moist from sweat or inadequate drying, they are known as ‘soft corns’.

Corn illustration
Corns form a hard plug of skin that causes pain when it is pressed

What is the difference between a corn and a wart?

Corns and warts look similar but have different causes. A corn is caused by pressure, a wart is caused by a viral infection. The way they cause discomfort is also different. Corns cause pain when you push them whereas warts are more painful when you squeeze them.

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How can I help to prevent corns?

Prevention is always better than having to cure. The best way to prevent a corn is to keep your feet in good condition. Choose shoes that fit well and are comfortable to walk in, and change shoes regularly to prevent pressure build up. If particular parts of your toes or feet are under pressure, and prone to corns, consider using products specially designed to reduce that pressure. We recommend Hansaplast Pressure Protection Rings: soft and self-adhesive pads that protect skin from pressure, friction and corns.


It’s also a good idea to exfoliate and moisturize feet regularly to reduce the build up of hard, calloused skin. You can read more about footcare in general in say goodbye to hard skin.

Corns treatment: pressure protection rings
Corn removal experts at Eucerin
Hansaplast medical professionals and scientists such as Dr Maike Kuhlmann are hard skin experts
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What is the best way to remove corns?

For most people, the three simple steps below help to relieve discomfort and remove corns. If they don’t work for you, consult your doctor for advice.

Step 1

Clean the affected area and then apply a corn plaster that contains salicylic acid such as Hansaplast Corn Plaster. These easy-to-apply strips stop further pressure and relieve pain. The center of the foam ring contains salicylic acid which gently but effectively loosens the skin cells that are holding the horny cells of the corn together, thereby making it softer and easy to remove. Leave it to work and replace the plaster after two days.

Please note that if you have diabetes or suffer from circulatory disorders you shouldn’t use Hansaplast Corn Plasters. Ask your doctor for advice on how best to remove them.

Corn treatment

Step 2

After four days, the now softened corn can be removed. Soak your feet in a warm salt or soap water bath and then e.g. use a pumice stone to rub away the corn. Don’t try to remove the corn with sharp objects such as a razor blade.
Treatment for corns on feet: soak

Step 3

Once the corn is removed moisturize your feet with a product such as Hansaplast Dry Feet Moisturizing Cream. Regularly using an effective moisturizer will strengthen your skin barrier and reduce the chance of corns reforming.
Corns on toe removal
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Where can I find out more about feet?

This article gives you an overview of corned skin on feet. You can read more about the four main foot concerns, and find out how they are inerconnected, in say goodbye to hard skin. For more information on each of the other conditions go to dry skin on feet, callus-free feet or no more cracked feet.
Dry skin on feet conditions
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Always see a doctor if the wound is deep, bleeds heavily or shows signs of infection like reddening, swelling or warmth. Please note that, although they were compiled with great care, the tips and advice given on this website by no means substitute medical advice and treatment. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult a doctor and follow medical advice, regardless of what you have learned on this website. Always read carefully and follow the instructions for use or the leaflets of our products.
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