Shoes for Calluses and Corns

OTBT Duty Free sandals – supportive and versatile

Every spring when I pull out the sandals and flip flops, I know two things. First, I need a pedicure ASAP. Second, I’ll probably deal with a few painful places on my feet until my body develops callouses by some of the straps. But I’m learning. This past year after a foot injury, I invested in a few supportive pairs of shoes and, amazingly, I didn’t deal with the callous issues as I have in years past. If you’ve dealt with a corn on your little toe or calluses, whatever the season, wearing the right shoes may help. And experts agree finding appropriate footwear may help ease your discomfort. Read on for more about calluses and corns, and the types of shoes that you should look for. We’ve got some great reviews and styles to help your shopping!

Hotter Donna, a supportive heel that may ease the discomfort

One the most important ways to care for those calluses and corns is to wear shoes that fit well and don’t rub, especially at spots inside the shoe. According to Mayo Clinic “Tight shoes and high heels can compress areas of your feet. When footwear is too loose, your foot may repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. Your foot may also rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.”

Shoes that are too tight can actually put your feet in a cycle of worsening pain. “This lesion will increase the pressure in a tight shoe, thus creating a vicious cycle: increased pressure increases the formation of corns or calluses, which further increases the pressure.” That’s according to a study from the American Academy of Family Physicians(AAFP). The authors add “The lesions will usually disappear following the removal of the causative mechanical forces. Most lesions can be managed conservatively by the use of properly fitting shoes and padding to redistribute mechanical forces.”

Us gals who have problem feet or arthritis may see corns and calluses more often. According to Mayo Clinic several foot conditions increase your risk. The bony bumps of bunions, curled up hammertoes, or bone spurs may leave your skin with painful rubbing in your shoes. (Don’t worry, we’ve got supportive shoes for hammertoes that can help protect and cushion your feet.) The AAFP reports that hammertoes are a common cause of soft and hard corns. “Patients with hammertoe deformities may need a shoe with an extra depth to accommodate hard corns that often occur on the top of the deformed toe. Patients with soft or hard corns on the fifth toe may benefit from a shoe that has extra width.” Your doctor may even put a special pad under your hammertoe which may help straighten the toes when you apply pressure.

Consider socks: You may love the sockless look, but according to our guest podiatrist Dr. Cathleen McCarthy, wearing “proper socks can decrease friction and thereby decrease calluses, corns, blisters and heel fissures.” You can read her article on nonsurgical ways to reduce foot and ankle pain on our blog.

Tread Labs insoles

Semi-custom insoles from Tread Labs may reduce the rub.

Wider toe boxes: Experts say when you are shopping, look for shoes that give your toes plenty of room. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your footwear. Another tip, your toes should not touch the end of your shoes.
Many podiatrists also recommend a wide toe box to prevent or care for many types of foot problems. And you’re in luck, we have a category devoted to wide toe box shoes.

Supportive soles: Another feature in shoes that may help is to find shoes with supportive comfortable insoles. Our blog is filled with many supportive shoe options with plenty of padding for the bottoms of your feet. We’ve searched the hundreds of options and review some of our favorites by shoe type and by foot condition. You might start with our review of 6 comfortable shoes for Fall for some ideas.

Add an insole: Sometimes a good orthotic added into a shoe can also redistribute the pressure in your shoe and reduce rubbing and irritation. We’ve created a guide with several higher quality over-the-counter insoles that may work for you.

Treating Calluses and Corns

In many cases, experts say simple at-home treatment can help with calluses and corns.

Toe cap pads may help. Photo credit:

You can soak the spot in warm water, or right after a shower or bath, use a pumice stone (available at drug stores) to gently rub off some of the dead skin.

Another tip, is to apply moisturizing lotions with ingredients that help slough off that skin. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using lotions or creams “with salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea. These ingredients will help gradually soften hard corns and calluses.” According to the Huffington Post, salicylic acid actually loosens the fibrous keratin in your skin, allowing thickened scaly skin to shed off more easily.

Another tip from the experts is to keep your toenails trimmed. Toenails that are too long may squish your toes into your shoes and lead to rubbing.

Comfortable Ballet Flats: Born Julianne

Born Julianne – soft leather, cushioned footbed, moderate arch support.

Adding barriers or special pads inside your shoes may also help. Moleskin or lambs wool is a popular choice to help prevent or protect irritated calluses. You may also consider toe cap pads  and toe pads to keep your toes from rubbing. There are also special pads that sit around corns. Toe separators (you see several options on our bunions pages) may also help your feet stay situated and reduce the rubbing.

If a callus or corn is especially painful, your doctor may do a procedure to remove some of the callus or corn. Experts say in rare cases, surgery may be needed. But hopefully a pair of comfortable shoes can bring relief to your “barking dogs”

Additional info: What is a callus?

Readers who come to usually know that wearing poor fitting shoes can aggravate our existing foot problems and cause our body to respond with a fight in our joints, muscles and even our skin.

The skin is our body’s thin waterproof shield. Did you know skin is actually your body’s heaviest and largest organ? That’s according to Pub Med Health. Skin can weight up to 22 pounds. This amazing skin keeps busy, constantly sloughing off dead cells and sending healthy new ones to the front lines, so to speak.

A callus can be uncomfortable in certain shoes. Photo credit: American Academy of Family Physicians

The outer part of our skin is called the epidermis. According to National Geographic, the epidermis “consists mainly of cells called keratinocytes, made from the tough protein keratin (also the material in hair and nails).” But on top of those special cells is a layer of dead skin cells designed for your body to shed off. (Gotta love science!)

Your body’s defense mechanism

The body adjusts the thickness of your epidermus as needed, based on where the skin gets repeated rubbing or pressure. “Its thickness varies considerably, being more than ten times thicker on the soles of the feet than around the eyes.” We read that the epidermis is normally 25 cells thick. But when it gets rubbed repeatedly the body sends in more cells to make a thick protective layer (a callus) to keep you from having a hole in your skin..up to 100 cells thick. So a callus, is basically your body’s defense mechanism to repeated rubbing and irritation on your skin.

Apparently, calluses can have all sorts of fancy names such as tylomas, porokeratosis, plantar warts (plantar verrucae), and intractable plantar keratosis, according to

Musicians are pretty familiar with calluses and don’t see them as bad actually. “Calluses are a sign that you’ve adapted your body to this stress (musical instrument, holding a pen, weight lifting) over time, and is actually a good thing! If one takes on a mechanical stress too quickly, a blister will ensue. In addition, a callus is an area of strength and fortification, and not something that needs to be removed or avoided.” But that’s on our fingers. On our feet, calluses, and the related corns can be an issue.

Calluses versus Corns

photo credit:

The skin experts at the American Academy of Dermatology explain that “Corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas of skin that form as a result of friction or pressure on the skin. Corns and calluses develop naturally to help protect the skin underneath them.” So when your skin gets rubbed over and over a callus may develop. Calluses usually are not painful. They usually appear on the bottom of your feet or on the sides.

Corns are different. “Corns develop due to bone pressure against the skin.” Experts say corns are more common on the sides and tops of your toes, and the balls of your feet. “Common causes of corns are arthritis or poorly-fitting shoes.” Corns are often painful when you press on them.


Have a question, or want to tell us about shoes that have worked for easing the discomfort of your corns or calluses? Share in our comments or on our Barkingdogshoes Facebook page.


American Academy of Dermatology – “Corns and calluses”

American Academy of Family Physicians – “Corns and Calluses Resulting from Mechanical Hyperkeratosis” – written by podiatrists about foot health

Huffington Post “What the heck is salicylic acid and why is it in your skincare” 

Mayo Clinic – “Corns and Calluses” 

Musicians Health Collective “Anatomy of a callus” 

National Geographic “Skin”

Pub Med Health- “How does skin work?” 



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