Corns - Definition, Origin and Treatment

Corns - Definition, Origin and Treatment

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Corns are calluses, the spur is directed inwards. These skin cones, also called crow's eyes, result from permanent pressure on skin close to bones.

Other names

Corns are also called crow's eyes, magpie eyes, horn eyes, dead thorn or clavus. Clavus is the Latin word for nail. Chicken, crow and magpie eyes are based on the similarity of the structure to a bird's eye. Leichdorn on the one hand names the conical, cone-shaped or thorn-shaped shape and at the same time designates the dead tissue.

How do corns arise?

Corns arise from constant pressure such as permanent rubbing against the skin, for example from shoes that are too tight or feet that are out of alignment. This pressure first causes a callus, that is, the top layer of skin is cornified and thickens. It is a protection against pressure. In the long run, this horny layer extends into the deeper layers of the skin, in the form of a horny thorn. We call this a corn.

  • Corns on curved toes, "hammer toes", develop because every step exerts pressure through the upper material of the shoe.
  • Crow eyes are created under the nail plate by pressure on the nail.
  • They occur on the ball of the foot through friction.
  • On the underside of the feet and on the sides, they usually form due to unevenness in the shoe, due to torn inner lining or unsuitable insoles.
  • A lack of foot hygiene leads to cracked skin and this is also a factor for the painful cornea.
  • Incorrectly placed pressure pads also lead to magpie eyes.
  • Lowering and spreading feet as well as arthrotically curved toe joints increase the risk of corneal thickening.
  • Corns also form from constant scratching, especially on fingers, hand and elbows.

Where are corns sitting?

Many believe that corns are a foot disease. That's not true! They mostly appear on feet only because the cause occurs most frequently here: pressure and friction of the skin hit an underlying bone. Naturally, this usually happens on the feet, because we walk with them and put them under constant pressure.
Corns are possible in the following places:

  • Under the sole of your foot,
  • under the nail plate,
  • on your toes,
  • on the ball of the foot,
  • on the elbow
  • and on the hand or the finger.

Corn or wart?

Many people confuse warts with corns, and even more know that corns are not warts, but do not know the differences. First of all, the cause is different: warts are caused by viral infections, crow's eyes are caused by pressure.

Visually, the two can be easily distinguished: the corn is called the eye, because its yellowish core is reminiscent of a pupil, warts have no such core. In addition, warts grow upwards, crow's eyes grow inwards. That's why the surface of corns is usually smooth, while warts usually stand out clearly from the skin. Warts often don't hurt at all, and those who hurt itch. Corns hurt a lot, the pain presses and stings, but does not itch externally.

All kinds of crow's eyes

Doctors distinguish these skin growths depending on the place where they develop, their hardness and their structure. The Clavus durus is a very hard corn on the top of the toes and on the sole of the foot, while the Clavus mollis is a soft corn between the toes. The clavus neurovascularis is particularly painful because blood vessels pass through it.

The Clavus papillari is sensitive to pressure, has a clear white border and a layer of jelly beneath the cornea. The Clavis neurofibrosus is round and grows deep, it includes scars, connective tissue and nerve fibers. The Clavis subungalis finally forms under the nail.

Where does the pain come from?

The cone-shaped growths arise because a hard core is formed in the callus, which tapering inwards. This cone itself does not hurt. But when the cornea presses on a nerve, it hurts.

Unpleasant consequences

A corn is not a serious disease at first, but it can burden people in everyday life. The “skin thorns” on the sole of the foot or toes hurt when you step on them and can make walking almost impossible in sensitive areas.

If they suffer from diabetes mellitus, they do not feel any more pain, but fistulas and infections can form, which can lead to diabetic misalignment of the toes and feet.


The treatment begins with a half-hour foot bath in warm water. This is how the skin soaks and can be detached below the spur. Then a solution with salicylic acid can be dripped onto the area or a plaster soaked with it can be applied. Home remedies such as lemon juice, onion slices and vinegar are also suitable.

Many people cut these skin spurs out themselves. Do not do that; serious infections can result. See a doctor who removes deep-seated growths with a corn knife.

Beware of diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes mellitus, your blood circulation is impaired. Therefore, you quickly develop inflammation. Diabetics should therefore always have corns treated by a doctor and refrain from self-treatment.

Prevent crow's eyes

To prevent corns, pay attention to foot hygiene and remove corneas regularly. In this way you avoid pressure points from which the spurs develop. It is best not to put on shoes that squeeze. If so, take special care that there are no calluses.

Some people develop corneas more than others. If you are one of them, treat yourself regularly to a warm foot bath, in which you rub off the cornea. The bath must not be too long, because then the entire skin softens, you can no longer distinguish where the cornea begins and ends. If you now remove normal skin as well, you may cause bleeding wounds. The foot needs some cornea, otherwise it hurts.

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that do not have any pressure points between the toes and the ball of the foot. Do not wear high heels except on special occasions. However, prefer shoes with well-padded and flexible soles. Soft leather upper prevents corns on the top of the toes.

Put on the right shoes for the sport. The companies that manufacture sports shoes adapt them to the movements of the respective sport. That is why football shoes are not suitable for hiking, basketball shoes are not necessarily suitable for jogging. On the other hand, if you wear soccer shoes for soccer and hiking shoes for hiking, you can prevent calluses. Remove the cornea several times a month with a pumice stone. Walk barefoot as often as possible. Lubricate your feet regularly because dry skin promotes skin growth. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): Corns (accessed: 03.07.2019), gesundheitsinformation.de
  • Merck & Co., Inc.,: Calluses and Corns (accessed: 07/03/2019), msdmanuals.com
  • Mayo Clinic: Corns and calluses (accessed: 03.07.2019), mayoclinic.org
  • American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society: Corns and Calluses (accessed: 03.07.2019), aofas.org
  • Hellmut Ruck: Handbook for Medical Foot Care: Fundamentals and Practice of Podology, Karl F. Haug, 2nd edition, 2012
  • Rodríguez-Sanz, D. / Tovaruela-Carrión, N. / López-López D .: Foot disorders in the elderly: A mini-review. Disease-a-Month Volume 64, Issue 3, March 2018, sciencedirect.com
  • Walter de Gruyter GmbH: Pschyrembel Online: Clavus (access: 03.07.2019), pschyrembel.de

ICD codes for this disease: L84ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Corn removal with callus: over 1 year old corn! (January 2023).