Corns are similar to calluses in that they are protection mechanisms formed by an accumulation of skin meant to protect an area from excessive pressure or friction. Corns, however, tend to form in isolated locations, such as between the fourth and fifth toe, on the toe joints or on the outside of the little toe. While the location will help you identify a corn, you will also notice that they are more rounded, somewhat translucent and have an evident hard center.

When they allowed to grow for long periods of time, corns can become surprisingly hard and painful as they rub against the toes and the inside of our shoes.

There are two types of corns. Hard corns (heloma dura) are the most common type. They are caused primarily by ill-fitting shoes and toe deformities. They usually develop on the tops and tips of the toes and on the sides of the feet. Soft corns (heloma molles) usually occur as the result of bone abnormalities in the toes. They develop between the toes and are sometimes referred to as “kissing corns.”

Hard Corns

Hard corns can form on the top of your toes, especially those that are often curled when forced into tight shoes. They are typically small, like an actual kernel of corn  and form to protect the toe from the bottom or front of the shoe.

Soft Corns

Soft corns are so named because the moisture that exists where they form, between the fourth and fifth toes, keeps them soft and somewhat pliable. Like hard corns, they form to help alleviate friction caused by the toes either being too close together naturally or because of tight fitting shoes. They occur often in people whose fourth toe may be wide enough to create a constant source of contact with its neighbor. Still, narrow-toed shoes are the most common cause.