Many corn removal methods involve eliminating the source of friction so your skin can heal. Most corns improve with conservative treatment that uses home remedies or over-the-counter products. While these treatments can produce results, they can't remove a corn on your foot overnight.
Corns, which are hardened layers of skin resulting from friction, can also be removed with surgery. This is only performed when other treatments fail, and symptoms persist. Trying to do this on your own is not advised because it poses a risk of infection.
This article describes nine corn removal methods and the steps involved. It also discusses when you should consult a healthcare provider.
Do I Have to Remove Corns?
Without treatment, a corn can cause foot pain. It can harm your posture, your manner of walking, and your foot alignment.
Different Ways to Remove Corns
There are several different ways to remove corns. The most appropriate treatment for your corn depends on your symptoms, your general health, and the severity of your problem.
A corn that isn't bothering you can probably be left alone without intervention. If you are a healthy adult with a minor corn, you may be able to manage the problem with conservative treatment.
However, if you have a corn with severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to walk normally and participate in daily activities, you may benefit from a medical evaluation. This is especially important if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, which can affect the sensation in your feet.
Corn Removal Techniques to Avoid
There is no recommended technique for trying to dig out a corn on your foot. It's not possible to remove a corn by pulling it out of your foot. Trying to extract a corn or cut it with a blade or other sharp object on your own can put you at risk of infection. Infections can create a severe problem if you have diabetes or another chronic condition.
Home remedies for corn removal may be appropriate for removing mild corns. These treatments involve removing the source of friction using the following techniques:
#1 Change to shoes that don't cause friction at the site of the corn:
- Replace tight-fitting shoes with wider shoes that don't squeeze your feet or apply pressure.
- Avoid wearing too loose shoes, which may allow your foot to slide and create friction against the toes.
- Ensure you're wearing the correct shoe size by getting a proper foot measurement.
- Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet may be slightly swollen and at their largest size.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes because they increase pressure on your forefoot.
- Ensure that your socks fit properly to avoid friction from seams on socks that are too tight or your foot sliding when you walk with too big socks.
#2 Trim your toenails:
- Too-long toenails can force your toes up against your shoe, resulting in the formation of a corn.
- Trim your toenails straight across, with enough room so that the corners of the nail rest loosely against the skin of your toe at the sides.
Over-the-counter (OTC) products can help relieve pressure and reduce the size of your corn. These options include the following:
#3 Soak the corn in warm water before using a pumice stone:
- Soak the corn daily for five to 10 minutes or until the skin softens.
- Dip a pumice stone (a porous, naturally abrasive stone) in warm water.
- Use the stone to file the corn.
- Apply gentle pressure with circular or sideways motions to remove dead skin.
- Avoid taking off too much skin which could cause bleeding or infection.
- Rinse the pumice stone after each use.
#4 Apply moisturizing lotions or creams:
- Use a moisturizing cream or lotion to gradually soften a hard corn.
- Look for a lotion or cream with one of the following keratolytics (medications that remove excess skin gradually), such as salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid), urea, or ammonium lactate (an alpha hydroxy acid).
- Apply the lotion or cream daily as directed on the label, or use a pad medicated with one of these products.
#5 Use foot padding:
- Use a donut-shaped adhesive corn pad or a piece of moleskin over a hard corn.
- This type of foot padding can prevent your toes from rubbing against the top of your shoe, which can help reduce an existing corn.
- Cushion a soft corn on your toe with a piece of lamb's wool, not cotton, between your toes.
#6 Wear insoles in your shoes:
- Select insoles to correct the position of your toes or feet.
- Wear shoe inserts that help to reduce pressure and friction in the affected area.
Diabetes and Corn Removal
Consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any home remedy or OTC treatment if you have diabetes.
These conditions can lead to nerve damage and poor blood flow in your feet, making them more vulnerable to foot ulcers and infection from treatments that remove skin or leave skin exposed.
#7 Research surgical options to remove a corn:
Surgery is only advised when conservative treatments fail. The procedure involves removing the corn and correcting abnormal mechanical stressors causing the formation of the corn.
The following office-based procedure using local anesthesia is a typical surgical method:
- Corn removal surgery that involves shaping the dead skin down to the root of the corn and removing it through a small incision.
- Additional surgery that involves the removal of a hammertoe, bunion, or other bony structure that is causing the corn.
Note that this procedure is more commonly performed in a surgical center or hospital.
Other Medical Interventions
#8 Consider cortisone injections:
A cortisone injection into the foot or affected toe may be used if your corn is causing significant pain. This will only help decrease pain and inflammation and not remove the corn.
#9 Have a podiatrist shave the corn with a surgical blade:
- A podiatrist (foot specialist) uses a surgical blade to shave the thickened, dead skin on top of the corn.
- The debridement procedure can be accomplished without anesthetic because the skin on top of the corn is dead.
Note that this is the most common treatment for corns.
Corn Removal Aftercare
If you have corn removal surgery that involves an incision, the incision will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage and dressing. Total recovery time ranges from six weeks to three months.
You can expect to follow these instructions for surgical corn removal aftercare:
- Ice and elevate your foot as much as possible the first week after surgery.
- Wear a surgical shoe for at least two weeks after surgery to cover the treated area and prevent swelling and other complications.
- Keep the affected area and dressing dry for two weeks after surgery, using a shower bag if necessary.
- Follow up with your provider for removal of stitches about 10 days after surgery.
- Limit activity for about three weeks after surgery.
- Keep your feet clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection during the entire healing process.
When Should You See a Healthcare Provider?
While you may be able to treat a mild corn at home, a corn with any of the following symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare provider:
- Symptoms that don't improve or that worsen with home treatments
- Pain and discomfort
- Persistent pain, redness, warmth, or drainage from the corn
- Interference in your ability to participate in any aspect of your daily life
- A diagnosis of diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy (nerve pain), or other chronic illness
There are nine common ways to remove a painful corn. Most corns improve with options that involve taking away the source of friction with home treatments. OTC products can also reduce pain and help improve symptoms.
If these treatments fail, you may be advised to have corn removal surgery. This in-office treatment is done with local anesthesia. While this procedure can reduce symptoms and provide long-term relief, its full recovery can take up to three months.
You should not attempt to perform at-home corn treatments if you have diabetes or another chronic condition. Doing so can put you at risk of having a foot infection and serious foot problems.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
American Podiatric Medical Association. Corns and calluses.
UCLA Health. Corns caused by repeated damage to the skin.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to treat corns and calluses.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Corns.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foot Health.
Harftord HealthCare. Calluses and corns.
Mount Sinai. Corns and calluses.
By Anna Giorgi
Anna Zernone Giorgi is a writer who specializes in health and lifestyle topics. Her experience includes over 25 years of writing on health and wellness-related subjects for consumers and medical professionals, in addition to holding positions in healthcare communications.
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What is the most effective way to remove corns? ›
- Soak the corn or callus in warm water. ...
- File the corn or callus with a pumice stone. ...
- Be careful not to take off too much skin. ...
- Apply moisturizing lotion or cream to the area daily. ...
- Use padding. ...
- Wear shoes that properly fit.
Your doctor can remove a corn in a single office visit by using a small knife to trim down the corn. Part of your treatment plan may also include surgery to correct foot deformities that might cause corns to continue developing.How long does it take to remove a corn with salicylic acid? ›
For corns and calluses—Repeat one or two times a day as needed for up to 14 days, or as directed by your doctor, until the corn or callus is removed. Corns and calluses may be soaked in warm water for 5 minutes to help in their removal.How do you remove deep seed corn? ›
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, soaking your feet in warm, soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes softens seed corns. This makes them easier to remove. Moisturize. Apply a moisturizer to the soles of your feet to hydrate and soften your skin.What does vinegar do to corns? ›
Soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar will help soften your skin and get rid of corns on your feet. You should rub a dab of castor oil on your corns after soaking your feet, in order to help get rid of them.What does Vaseline do for corns? ›
Simple over-the-counter products can soften and resolving corns and calluses. These include: Creams or petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Regular use can soften dead skin.Can you dig out your own corns? ›
Don't attempt to cut or shave away your corns as this can lead to a potentially dangerous infection of the surrounding tissues. Cutting or shaving corns should only be done by a doctor.Do corns leave a hole? ›
Treatment of hard corns
Removal, or enucleation, of the centre will leave a dimple or hole in the tissue of the foot. In time, with healing, the body will naturally fill this up with healthy tissue.
Removing the dead skin that has built up is the key in treating corns. Salicylic acid medication is most common in accomplishing this. The acid works by dissolving keratin, which is the protein that makes up the majority of corns. You can purchase salicylic acid over-the-counter in products such as wart removers.How long does it take for a hard corn to go away? ›
Corns and calluses are not serious for most people. They usually go away in 1 to 2 weeks once you remove the cause.
How long do you have to rest after corn removal? ›
Typically it takes 6 weeks to 3 months to fully recover from corn removal surgery. The recovery time truly depends upon the extent of the surgery and any complications that may arise from it.How do you get the core of a corn out? ›
Soaking corns and calluses in warm, soapy water softens them. This can make it easier to remove the thickened skin. Thin thickened skin. Once you've softened the affected skin, rub the corn or callus with a pumice stone, nail file, emery board or washcloth.Can you pull the root of a corn out? ›
Unlike plants, corns don't have a “roots”! Corns are simply an accumulation of thickened skin that is pushed into your foot. To relieve the pressure, the core of the corn must be removed.What does a seed corn look like when it comes out? ›
Seed corns usually appear as hard, circular, well-defined spots of skin, and they are smaller than other types of corns. While seed corns are often asymptomatic, they can sometimes cause pain when pressure is applied to them, especially during weight bearing activities like walking or running.What naturally removes corns? ›
Soaking your hands or feet in warm, soapy water softens corns and calluses. This can make it easier to remove the thickened skin. Thin thickened skin. During or after bathing, rub a corn or callus with a pumice stone, nail file, emery board or washcloth to help remove a layer of toughened skin.Does Epsom salt get rid of corns? ›
Soaking can be a great way to eliminate both corn and calluses, and you have a few different choices that may work well for you. Start by trying Epsom salt and warm water; the water will make your skin soft and the salt will act as a scrub.What happens when you put salicylic acid on a corn? ›
Removing the dead skin that has built up is the key in treating corns. Salicylic acid medication is most common in accomplishing this. The acid works by dissolving keratin, which is the protein that makes up the majority of corns. You can purchase salicylic acid over-the-counter in products such as wart removers.Which ointment is best for corn? ›
Salicylic Acid, Lanolin.Can tea tree oil remove corns? ›
Good advice about removing corns:
Take a foot bath and add a few drops of pure Tea Tree Oil in the water. It will help to dissolve calluses and corns, and at the same time it cleanses the skin. Rub the corn carefully with pumice stone (natural stone with abrasive effect) when you are in the bath or take a footbath.
As the corn becomes thicker and bigger they develop internally in deeper layers of skin often causing pain and discomfort.
What happens if you don't remove a corn? ›
If corns and calluses are left untreated, they will continue to spread into the skin around them, further hardening the skin. As corns and calluses deepen and grow, they will eventually crack the skin, opening up your feet for infections to pop up and spread.Do corns have roots? ›
A popular misconception is that corns have roots; this is false, a corn does not have a root. Instead it has what we call a nucleus. The nucleus is a conical shaped area of hard keratin which has formed in response to pressure and/or friction.How does Dr Scholl's corn remover work? ›
Scholl's® Corn Removers Soft Felt Pads use medicated discs to soften corns and remove them, while soft felt corn pads cushion the area and help relieve painful shoe pressure and friction.What to do after corn comes off? ›
Don't try to remove the corn with sharp objects such as a razor blade. 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.Do corns have nerve endings? ›
Corns are small conical shaped areas of hard skin which press on underlying nerve endings, often causing considerable pain.How deep do corns go? ›
Typically, corns develop between your toes, on the sides or bottom of your feet, or below the toenail. Sometimes, they can press deep into the layers of skin and can be painful.Does it hurt when a podiatrist removes a corn? ›
A podiatrist can use the blade to carefully shave away the thickened, dead skin—right in the office. The procedure is painless because the skin is already dead. Additional treatments may be needed if the corn or callus recurs.Is it bad to remove a corn? ›
If you are otherwise healthy, you may want to try removing a corn or callus on your own before coming in to see us. The first thing to know about doing this is that you should not use any off-the-shelf corn removal product, since they often use salicylic acid and can damage healthy skin tissue.Do corn removers work? ›
The solid pads that go over the corn work by using salicylic acid to soften the corn. If the hard “plug” is soft, it places less pressure on the nerve endings in the skin, reducing pain. Corn Pads do not remove the corn permanently.Can you wait too long to pick corn? ›
If there's no liquid in the kernels, then you've waited too long to harvest. Once you're sure your corn is ready to harvest, pick the ears in the early morning before the sun warms up the ears.
What happens if you leave corn for too long? ›
If you leave the cobs in boiling water for too long, the corn's starch content will absorb too much water and its pectin will dissolve, yielding kernels with a soggy texture.What does corn picked too late look like? ›
If you can see through the liquid and yet it looks milky, the corn is perfect for picking. And if the liquid is completely opaque (you can't see through it), you've waited too long. After a season or two of guessing and testing, you'll get very good at gauging your corn's ripeness just by looking at the kernels.Why does my hard corn keep coming back? ›
Rubbing, friction and mainly pressure are the reasons for corns developing and reoccurring. Anything that increases this friction and pressure will increase your risk of developing corns.How long does it take for corn to come out of foot? ›
Corns won't disappear overnight, but you can see them lessen in appearance in as little as two weeks with treatment. It may be a month or more before they completely disappear. If you regularly develop corns, look for more supportive, comfortable shoes.When should you worry about a corn? ›
If they are painful, it is a sign that you need to come in to get them checked out. In addition to pain, other symptoms that may indicate a need for medical treatment include redness, swelling, and discharge. If they keep coming back, it's probably time to have them checked by our doctors.Why did my corn turn white? ›
Why Are Corn Leaves Turning White? Corn blotch leafminer, Agromyza parvicornis, is a leaf-feeding insect normally considered an “occasional or non-economic” pest. The adult is a gray to brown fly 1/4 inch in length. To most of us, it looks very similar to a housefly.What is at the core of a corn? ›
At the center of a corn is often a dense knot of skin called a core, which is located over the area of greatest friction or pressure. Firm, dry corns that form on the upper surfaces of the toes are called hard corns. Pliable, moist corns that form between the toes are called soft corns.Can you squeeze a seed corn out? ›
Can you squeeze a corn on your foot? Simply, the answer is no. At home treatments may include soaking the feet in warm water to help soft the skin, filing the top layer of the skin back to reduce the pain and pressure whilst you are walking and applying emollient especially with a urea base to break down the hard skin.Should corn seed be up or down? ›
The optimized planting orientation for corn seed is to be planted tip down with the germ facing the adjacent row. Every spring, millions of acres of corn planted across the US are not allowed to reach their full potential due to a now preventable problem.What is the difference between hard corn and seed corn? ›
A hard corn is small, made up of dead skin, and has a packed center. A soft corn is more pliable and typically found between the fourth and fifth toes. A seed corn is tiny, but can be very tender and painful depending on its location. Unlike hard and soft corns, seed corns are usually found on the soles of the feet.
Can you get corns permanently removed? ›
Corns are areas of hard skin caused by prominent bony lumps and bumps, often in association with claw and hammer toe deformities. In most cases corns can be permanently removed with excellent cosmetic and symptomatic results. Surgery often involves the removal of small sections of bone under local anaesthetic.Can you cut a corn out of your foot? ›
Don't attempt to cut or shave away your corns as this can lead to a potentially dangerous infection of the surrounding tissues. Cutting or shaving corns should only be done by a doctor.How long does it take for corn removal to work? ›
Remove and place a new patch/bandage as directed (usually every 8 to 48 hours depending on brand). Repeat this procedure for up to 2 weeks for corns and calluses and 12 weeks for warts. Dosage is based on your medical condition, product type/brand, and response to treatment.How do professionals remove corns? ›
Treatment from a foot specialist
A foot specialist, such as a podiatrist, may be able to offer treatments such as: cutting away the corn or callus. patches to help soften the hard skin so it can be removed. specially made soft pads or insoles to take pressure off the painful area of your foot.
If corns and calluses are left untreated, they will continue to spread into the skin around them, further hardening the skin. As corns and calluses deepen and grow, they will eventually crack the skin, opening up your feet for infections to pop up and spread.Why is there a hole after corn removal? ›
As a hard corn is actually a callus but with a deep hard centre, once the callus part has been removed, the centre needs to be cut out. This is called “enucleation” of the centre. Removal, or enucleation, of the centre will leave a dimple or hole in the tissue of the foot.How do you find the core of a corn? ›
At the center of a corn is often a dense knot of skin called a core, which is located over the area of greatest friction or pressure. Firm, dry corns that form on the upper surfaces of the toes are called hard corns.Can you pop out a corn? ›
As well as treating the cause, you can try to remove a corn using mechanical force, for instance with a pumice stone from a pharmacy or drugstore. First you soak the affected area of skin in warm water for about 10 minutes. Then you use the pumice stone to gently remove the upper layer of thick skin.How far out do corn roots grow? ›
These findings match closely with information in Corn Growth and Development where it is stated that corn roots grow at a rate of approximately one inch per day, meet in 30-inch row centers at approximately the 3rd-leaf stage, and reach maximum depths of six feet or greater near the blister to milk stage (Abendroth et ...What does a corn look like when its out? ›
Small, round, raised bump of hardened skin surrounded by irritated skin (more likely to be a corn). Thick, hardened, larger typically more flatten patch of skin (more likely to be callus).
How long do you leave Dr Scholl's corn remover on? ›
- Wash affected area and dry thoroughly. Then apply medicated corn bandage.
- After 48 hours, remove medicated bandage. May soak corn in warm water for 5 minutes to assist in removal.
Removing the dead skin that has built up is the key in treating corns. Salicylic acid medication is most common in accomplishing this. The acid works by dissolving keratin, which is the protein that makes up the majority of corns. You can purchase salicylic acid over-the-counter in products such as wart removers.