Calluses and corns are patches of rough thickened skin that form on your hands and feet over time due to pressure and friction. Corns are similar to calluses but differ in that they have an inner core that is either soft or hard. Corns typically have a round shape, whereas calluses (also called callosities) lack a defined outline.
While soft corns form between your toes, hard corns form on the tops of them. Corns typically form in non-weight bearing parts of your feet and in areas with less cushioning. Home remedies such as baking soda, coconut oil and pumice stone can help you get rid of corns and calluses.
What Are the Symptoms of Corns and Calluses?
You can feel corns and calluses as hard areas of skin which appear different from the surrounding skin. They may be less sensitive to touch because of the thickened skin layer called the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin). While calluses don’t typically cause pain, corns may be painful.Neither are contagious.
What Causes Corns and Calluses?
Several things cause corns and calluses, but it often boils down to pressure and a process referred to as hyperkeratosis (abnormal thickening of the outer layer of the skin). Friction from ill-fitting shoes, socks, or stockings can make parts of your body vulnerable to callus formation.
Other factors that can cause calluses include pressure from high-heeled shoes, not wearing gloves and changes in your feet as you age.As you get older, your feet become wider and the cushioning within them thins.
Calluses are your body’s way of protecting your skin from damage. If you regularly walk on hard surfaces, you may also develop corns and calluses. That also includes high impact exercises. You may also be at risk if you have other foot conditions such as bunions or hammer toe. These conditions can cause your toes to rub up against your shoes in an unnatural manner and create a friction spot.
Calluses and corns form as a way to protect yourself from frequent pressure and friction. Friction causes the outer layer of your skin to die causing dead skin which covers the corn. Guitar players, for example, get calluses on their fingertips as a result of pressure from guitar strings.
Let’s look at the top natural ways to get rid of calluses and corns.
Home Remedies for Corns and Calluses
Foot Soak in Epsom Salt Bath
Soaking your feet in an Epsom salt solution is an effective home remedy for softening corns and calluses. This makes it easier to remove the thickened skin while improving circulation to the affected area.
Soak your feet in a solution of warm water and ½ cup of Epsom Salt for 10 – 15 minutes to soften the dead hardened skin. When done, make sure to dry your feet and then exfoliate the thick skin of your feet with a pumice stone until the hard spots are gone. Simply rub the pumice stone over the corn or callus to remove the outer layer of dead skin.
To keep your skin soft and to prevent corns and calluses from forming, moisturize your feet with coconut oil or jojoba oil or any other natural oil after exfoliating them.
Be careful when using the pumice stone and make sure not to irritate your skin. Doing so can make your skin vulnerable to skin infections. In addition, you should not use an Epsom salt foot bath if you have open sores on your feet.
Removal with Epsom Salt Rub
Epsom salt is a natural scrub that can help you to get rid of dead, dry skin. This in turn helps repair callused feet and get rid of corns as well.
Mix a 2:1 ratio of neutral oil such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil and Epsom salt. Rub the remedy gently on your hard skin to remove corns and calluses on your feet and toes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Rub moisturizing cream, lotion or natural oil on your feet to soften the skin.
You can also use sea salt scrub instead of Epsom salt to treat corns and calluses. Make sure to read my article on how to use sea salt scrub for gorgeous skin.
Using foot pads is an effective way for prevention and treatment of corns and calluses. Foot pads relieve pressure on friction spots which can help to prevent the formation of corns and calluses and help to heal them faster. Foot padding can also help with relieving the pain of sore corns and can speed their healing process.
You can use moleskin padding or foot pads on pressure points or between your toes when wearing shoes. Without the pressure, your corns and calluses will fade away over time. You can also use moleskin or foot pads with new shoes on pressure points to prevent calluses. While foot pads are effective for getting rid of calluses, you need to be aware that callus removal takes time. Your patience will pay off in the end.
Coconut Oil for Rough Skin
A foot massage using coconut oil will improve blood circulation to the feet and it will also moisturize them and soften the hard skin which can help to prevent callus and corn formation. Messaging your skin with coconut oil can also prevent cracked skin which can result from calluses and infections.
A study published in the journal, Dermatitis, found that coconut oil is an effective and safe moisturizer for treating scaly dry skin. As an added bonus, virgin coconut oil also has antiseptic properties.
To treat corns and calluses with coconut oil, warm about a teaspoon of coconut oil in your hands and massage your feet gently. Focus on the hardened areas of dead skin buildup to get rid of corns and calluses. Afterward, put on a pair of socks and let the oil work its magic overnight. Repeat this daily until your calluses and corns have completely healed.
Salicylic acid is a common callus treatment as well as a remedy for warts that works by reducing the thickness of calluses.11 It dissolves the dead skin layer of both corns and calluses.
Salicylic acid is derived from a chemical found in willow tree bark called salicin. It has a long history of folklore use for pain and wounds due in part to its anti-inflammatory properties. You probably know one of its derivatives well, namely, aspirin.
Apply salicylic acid to the hard skin as per your skincare product directions. Once your callus or corn has softened, you can remove the dead skin.
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Sansevieria trifasciata, more commonly known as mother in-law’s tongue is as an effective natural treatment for getting rid of corns and calluses.
A study published in the Global Journal of Health Science found that a 5 to 20 percent strength ointment containing Sansevieria trifasciata extract treated corns within 25 days. The researchers found that a 20 percent solution improved corns within 10 days.
Apple Cider Vinegar Foot Bath
Apple cider vinegar offers many health benefits and can reduce the rough thickened skin of calluses. It is also effective for softening skin to reduce their appearance. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties provide additional protection against infection.
Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm water foot bath and soak your feet for 10 minutes. As with the other foot baths mentioned, dry your feet thoroughly. Exfoliate the affected area with a pumice stone. To keep the skin area moisturized, apply some olive oil or coconut oil. Repeat once daily until your callus is gone.
Baking Soda Foot Bath
Baking soda can provide a good treatment for softening the rough skin covering calluses and corns. You can also use baking soda to exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells.
Add three tablespoons of baking soda to warm water and soak your feet for 10 – 15 minutes. You can then gently remove any dead skin using a pumice stone or foot file.
Lemon juice is a great home remedy for treating corns and calluses. Like apple cider vinegar, the acidity of lemon juice gives it antimicrobial properties that can also soften your skin and prevent cracked heels.
You can apply lemon juice straight to the corn or calluses and allow it to air dry. You can also mix it with warm water for a pleasant-smelling foot bath. Soak your feet for 15 minutes to soften your skin.
Corns and Calluses – Note to Diabetics
While these are effective treatments for calluses and corns, you should consult your doctor before using any of them if you are diabetic or have a blood circulation condition. A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy or reduced sensation in your feet and hands. Because of this, you have a greater risk of developing foot ulcers that can lead to infections. Calluses are a risk factor for developing foot ulcers.
Tips for Preventing Corns and Calluses
In addition to remedies for corns and calluses, there are several self-care steps you can take to prevent them from developing by focusing on what is causing them in the first place.
Make sure you are wearing proper footwear to prevent corns and calluses. They should fit your feet well, with plenty of room for your toes. This will prevent your toes from rubbing on the inside of your shoes. You may also want to consider alternating the shoes you wear on different days.
Swollen feet can also pose a risk for developing corns and calluses. When your feet swell, there is less room for them to move in your shoes. This can lead to parts of your feet rubbing against the insides of your shoes. Simple things such as elevating your feet or taking frequent breaks from your desk can improve circulation and keep your feet from swelling and creating pressure spots.
Your feet aren’t the only parts of your body susceptible to calluses. You should always wear gloves when gardening or doing yard work to prevent calluses from forming on your hands or knuckles, explains WebMD. Pressure and friction can cause dead skin to build up just like it does on your feet.
Corns and Calluses – When to See Your Doctor
If you find that self-care treatments for corns and calluses are not providing relief, you may want to see your doctor. Other red flags signaling a doctor visit include pain from corns and calluses or if large areas of your body are affected. And of course, if you are diabetic or suffer from neuropathy or circulatory issues, you should always talk to your doctor first before trying self-care treatments.
Many remedies exist for corns and calluses. Simple measures such as properly fitting shoes and regular moisturizing can prevent hardened skin from developing and help you get rid of corns and calluses. The National Health Service explains that the best cure for corns, calluses, and callosities may simply be sensible shoes.