Natural Remedies for Corns and Calluses

A bottle of castor oil sitting on the window sill of the bathroom in the Keeper's house at Split Rock Lighthouse.
Pete Markham/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

What are Corns and Calluses?

Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin, most commonly on the palms and soles, that form as a result of rubbing, friction or pressure.

Corns, on the other hand, are often smaller with a hard center and usually develop on the tops and sides of the toes. They can sometimes be painful. See an illustration of corns and calluses.

Causes of corns and calluses include wearing poorly-fitting shoes and the use of certain tools (such as hand tools).

Natural Remedies for Corns and Calluses

It's important to seek your doctor's advice on how to care for corns and calluses, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that increase your chance of complications.

Although preventing friction or pressure on the area is often the only treatment needed, here are some natural home remedies that are used for corns and calluses.

  • Castor oil is a thick oil that can be purchased at the drugstore. Before going to bed, try dipping a cotton pad or ball in castor oil, applying it over the affected area, and taping it in place using a small piece of adhesive tape. Put on a pair of socks to prevent it from staining sheets. Castor oil should not be applied over broken skin.
  • Soaking feet in epsom salts and warm water for approximately 20 minutes can help soften calluses and may even temporarily reduce pain by decreasing swelling and inflammation below the skin. Epsom salts can be purchased at the drugstore.
  • Softening calluses means they can be gently worn down with a pumice stone. People with diabetes should not use a pumice stone. Do not cut or shave corns or calluses, because that can increase the risk of infection.
  • Moisturizing regularly with calendula herbal cream or oil can help keep skin soft and prevent the formation of painful skin cracks. Calendula products can be found online or at some drugstores or health food stores. If you are not able to find calendula, look for lotions with urea or lactic acid, which help soften and dissolve thickened skin. They can be found in any drugstore in the lotion section.
  • Wear gloves during activities that cause pressure or friction on the hands such as gardening or weight lifting.
  • Protect feet with non-medicated corn pads, which are available at drug stores.
  • Get proper footware. High-heeled shoes with narrow pointed toes, not wearing socks, and too tight shoes are often the culprits. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes. A shoe repair store may be able to stretch shoes where they are tight.
  • Arch supports and orthotics are just some of the treatments that can help correct biomechanical foot problems that can be behind corns and calluses. Consult a podiatrist.

Using Natural Remedies for Corns and Calluses

Keep in mind that scientific support for the claim that any form of alternative medicine can treat corns and calluses is limited. If you are considering using any natural remedy, consult your doctor first. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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