A corn is a hardened area of skin that occurs on toes. They usually cause mild to moderate pain, but in some cases can become infected and quite painful. They are quite commonly found on the lateral, or outer side, of the 5th toe. Corns also occur on the other lesser toes, usually on top of one of the joints. There are two types of corns: hard corns (heloma durum) and soft corns (heloma molle). Hard corns are on the tops and outer sides of toes, and soft corns occur between the toes. Moisture keeps the lesions between the toes “softer” than the ones on the tops or outer sides of the toes.

Constant pressure from shoes on the skin overlying a boney prominence. The circulation is compromised from the unremitting pressure, which causes the skin to actually die and become hardened or “unviable”.

Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns to develop – especially on the 5th toes.

If you have contracted toes (hammer toes), pressure from shoes on the tops of the joints can cause corns to develop.

Soft corns often occur between the great toe and the 2nd toe – from unremitting pressure on the bones in the toes. This is a common finding with people who have bunion deformities that cause the great toe to press against the 2nd toe.



  • Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes
  • Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation on top of toe joints
  • In severe cases, or in diabetic patients, the corns become ulcerated which can easily lead to infection

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Padding or over-the-counter products to reduce pressure and provide comfort. Avoid medicated corn pads, especially if you are diabetic or have compromised circulation.
  • Shoe gear changes. Choose comfortable, roomy shoes with lace up design.
  • Routine trimming of lesions

Surgical Treatments

  • In cases where recurrence is often and the pain impedes normal activity, surgery is a good option. The underlying bone or portion of bone is surgically removed.
  • For diabetics who are at risk of developing ulcerated corns, it is best to address the problem on a more permanent basis by removing the underlying bone or portion of bone that is causing the corn to develop.
  • A podiatrist can discuss the different treatment options with you to help you make the best decision for your particular situation.
Call Central Carolina Foot and Ankle Associates at 919-477-9333 for an appointment or click the link below.

Central Carolina Foot & Ankle Associates

2609 N. Duke Street, Ste. 301
Durham, NC 27704
(near the corner of N. Duke St. and Stadium Dr.)

5107 Southpark Drive
Suite 202
Durham, NC 27713
(close to RTP and Chapel Hill)