Impact of Corns & Calluses on Diabetics and How to Treat Them


Skin problems may seem like mild inconveniences at times, but when left untreated, they can cause serious complications. Corns and calluses are two such skin problems that affect millions of people worldwide. They are especially dangerous for people with diabetes. So, read on to know how to get rid of corns and calluses and why diabetics need to be extra careful with them.

Diabetic Foot

Corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas of skin on an area of the body that develops as a response to constant irritation, pressure or friction. The body forms a layer of hardened skin around the areas that face constant friction to protect the skin layers deep inside.

More on Corns and Calluses:

A callus is an area of rough, thick skin that forms on the balls or heels of your feet, knees, palms or fingers. A callus is not painful and is usually much bigger than a corn. It is formed on a part of the body that is exposed to constant friction. It is often noticed on the palms of a mechanic or the fingertips of a guitarist.

A corn is a kind of callus with a hard centre and it is encircled by an area of inflamed skin. Corns can cause pain when you press on them. They are formed because of bone pressure against the skin and are usually seen in areas of the feet that do not bear weight, like tops and sides of the toes and in between them. They are sometimes seen on the balls of the feet also.

Signs and Symptoms:

If you have the following symptoms, it means you have a corn or callus. The earlier you note the signs, the more effective will be the treatment.

  • Dry, waxy or flaking skin
  • A rough patch of thickened skin
  • A raised bump on your skin that feels hard and dry
  • Pain or discomfort when you press on the raised bump


The most common causes of corns and calluses are as follows:

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a disease of the joints which causes cartilage, a cushioning substance on the end of a bone, to wear away. This creates bone pressure on the skin, creating painful corns.
  • Ill-Fitted Shoes: Both tight and loose shoes can cause rubbing and friction on the skin of your feet, forming corns and calluses. High heels also cause pressure on areas of the feet, forming calluses.
  • Not Wearing Socks: Wearing footwear without socks can cause stitches and seams to rub against the skin, causing friction. Ill-fitting socks can also cause calluses.
  • Playing Musical Instruments: Playing musical instruments can cause calluses on the palms and fingertips. Example – guitarists develop calluses on their fingertips from constantly strumming the strings.
  • Using Hand Tools: Using hand tools like screwdrivers, chef’s knife, etc. can also cause friction on the skin, resulting in calluses on the hands.
  • Writing A Lot: Writing a lot can also cause calluses on the fingers, as the pen or pencil continuously rubs on the skin.
  • Foot Deformities: Foot deformities like bunions, hammertoe, and bone spurs cause corns and calluses due to constant rubbing inside your shoes.

How to Get Rid of Them?

It is easier to prevent corns and calluses from forming by wearing properly-fitting shoes, comfortable socks, and padded gloves while using hand tools. Some other ways to get rid of corns and calluses are:

  • Soak them in warm water: Add some Epsom salt to a tub full of warm water and soak the affected area in it for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also add apple cider vinegar to the warm water and apply castor oil on the corn after drying your foot.
  • Slough off dead skin: Slough off dead skin from the callus or corn gently, using circular motions with a pumice stone.
  • Ensure you do not file the skin too much: Removing too much skin can cause bleeding and infection.
  • Apply a thick moisturizer on the area everyday: Use creams that contain urea, salicylic acid or ammonium lactate, which will help soften the skin.
  • Use padding around the callus: You can buy pads or moleskin from a pharmacy and place it around the callus. Ask your doctor before using medicated pads.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks: This will eliminate friction.
  • Trim your toenails: Long toenails can make your toes push up against the shoes, creating friction and resulting in a corn.

How do Corns and Calluses Affect Diabetic People?

People with diabetes should take extra care to prevent and treat corns and calluses. This is because their high blood sugar affects capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to the hands and feet, depriving them of adequate oxygen and nutrients. This makes healing slower.

Diabetic people also have nerve damage that causes numbness in the feet.

  • This loss of feeling means you cannot feel blisters or cuts on your feet.
  • When you do not notice them, they are left untreated and develop into sores and infections.
  • Diabetic foot complications can lead to gangrene (tissue death) which might require amputation of the affected area.

Therefore, diabetic people should take extra care of their feet. You should smooth corns and calluses gently every day after a bath, with pumice stone or an emery board. You should also check your feet every day for cuts or blisters and treat them before they get infected.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosis of calluses and corns requires mainly physical observation by your doctor and ruling out other causes of rough, thick skin such as cysts or warts. If home remedies do not help, the following medical treatments might give you some relief:

  • Cutting off dead skin: The doctor can remove excess dead skin around a corn using a scalpel.
  • Medication: The doctor might apply a salicylic acid patch or prescribe a salicylic acid gel to get rid of the callus or corn.
  • Inserts: Doctors might prescribe custom-made shoe inserts if a foot deformity is causing the callus or corn.
  • Surgery: Very rarely, your doctor might recommend surgery to correct the bone deformity that is causing the corn or callus.

Lab Tests for Diabetes and Skin problem:

In case a physical deformity is causing the corns or calluses on your feet, your doctor might ask you to get an X-ray of the affected area to see what is causing the abnormality. You can book an appointment now for an X-ray through Medlife Labs.

If you feel tingling and numbness in your legs or have bleeding corns on your feet, it could be an early symptom of diabetes. In such a situation, you can book diagnostic tests for diabetes, such as HBA1C, Glucose Tolerance Test, Postprandial Glucose test, and Blood Glucose Monitoring through Medlife Labs today.

In order to book free home sample collection, you can visit the website or call 7022000900.

To Conclude:

Corns and calluses are often considered as minor irritants, but can turn into painful infections if left untreated, especially in those with diabetes. So, use the tips suggested in this article to prevent and treat corns and calluses before they develop into skin infections.



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