Top 9 Corn Removal Methods (With Instructions)
Medically reviewed by Danielle McNeil, D.P.M
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.
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.
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.
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.