Calluses, Corns, and Seed Corns

Calluses, corns and ‘seed corns’, what are they?

Calluses, corns and ‘seed corns’ are hardened layers of skin that can occur on the feet and toes when they become a subject to excessive friction and pressure. Calluses and corns are often painful. But this foot problem can be treated quite easily.

What are the differences between these three forms of pathology?

There are differences between these three pathologies:

  • Callus is a localized thickening of the skin of the foot in places of pressure and friction. The toes and the arch of the foot are the areas most affected. When touching, the horn will be painful and give the impression of stepping on a pebble.
  • Corn is characterized by more thickening of the skin and a yellowish discoloration appearing on the tops and sides of the toes, on the sole of the foot and behind the heel. Left untreated, it can form painful cracks in the heel and cause severe pain when walking and affect your well-being during your daily activities.
  • Seed corns result from the internal bleeding of a horn and the continuous rubbing between two toes, that is, on the lateral surfaces of the toes or in the hollow of the interdigital space. It is characterized by its conical shape and its brownish center. It is particularly uncomfortable and it causes a dull ache when walking. This is a mild condition.

In any case, a podiatrist treats these pathologies.

What are the causes?

The causes of these three pathologies are multiple:

  • wearing shoes that are too tight or unsuitable for the shape of the foot: this can deform the toes which get stuck in the shoe, which will increase friction;
  • wearing shoes without socks, which increases the friction of the shoe against the toes;
  • long walks and some sports;
  • foot shapes such as hallux valgus (bunion), hammer toe, sagging anterior arch of the foot, as well as flat or hollow feet;
  • circulatory disorders;
  • chronic diseases such as diabetes;
  • age: older people often see their feet deformed and their skin more fragile;
  • obesity.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary from person to person:


  • located under the foot or on the toes;
  • rough, unsightly blistering;
  • painful when touching;
  • discomfort when walking.


  • yellowish color;
  • painless or little pain.

Seed corns:

  • located between the 4th and 5th toe;
  • thickening of the skin in the form of a cone;
  • presence of a rounded shape evoking an eye with a sunken center, protruding edges. A black dot in the middle and a red rim, inflamed;
  • dull ache, without visible lesion, when walking;
  • difficulty putting on shoes.

How to prevent them?

These three pathologies can be avoided by prevention:

  • Wear suitable, light, flexible and comfortable shoes, or consult a podiatrist to help you choose the right shoes;
  • Avoid shoes with synthetic soles to limit sweating;
  • Avoid wearing open sandals that do not protect the feet;
  • Avoid wearing high heels (3 to 4 cm maximum);
  • Wear cotton or natural fiber socks;
  • Moisturize your feet with a moisturizing foot cream: ask your podiatrist or pharmacist for the choice of cream;
  • Wash your feet daily with soap and water and dry them well, especially between the toes;
  • File the nails and gently use a pumice stone on the affected areas;
  • Wear orthopedic insoles after consulting a podiatrist.


What treatments are available?

Your podiatrist can undoubtedly provide you with the help you need to treat these three pathologies:

  • Ablation: This is a procedure performed by a podiatrist that aims to reduce the size of the horn or partridge’s eye with a sharp and / or rotating instrument. NEVER ATTEMPT such an operation at home.
  • Wearing plantar orthotics or orthopedic insoles: This helps reduce pressure on the foot and toes and corrects the posture of your feet.
  • Toe straightening: This is a surgical procedure to correct a hallux valgus or straighten the toes.
  • Wearing orthoplasty: Toe orthotics protect a toe in conflict with the neighboring toe to prevent rubbing against each other.


Make an appointment

Calluses, corns, and seed corns are often painful, but they are easily treated by our podiatrists. Call us right away. PodiatreMD is a  medical network in downtown Montreal, on Rue Jean-Talon (corner Lucerne), Laval, West Island, and Gatineau. Our specialists will provide you with the solution to your health problems.