Corns and Calluses in Children: Care Instructions

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Corns and calluses are areas of thick, hard skin. They form to protect the skin from injury. They may form wherever the skin rubs against something, such as shoes.

  • Calluses often form on the hands or feet. A callus is hard, dry, and thick. It may look grayish or yellowish. It may be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin.
  • Corns usually form where toes rub together. A hard corn is firm with a thick core. A soft corn can look like an open sore.

In most cases, you can take steps at home to care for a corn or callus.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child wear shoes and socks that fit well. This will reduce rubbing and give corns or calluses time to heal.
  • Use protective pads, such as moleskin, to cushion the callus or corn.
  • Soak the corn or callus in warm water, and then use a pumice stone to rub the thickened skin away.
  • Use an over-the-counter callus-removing product, such as one that contains salicylic acid or urea. These products come in creams, ointments, gels, and patches.
  • Talk to your doctor before you try any home treatment if your child has a condition that causes problems with blood flow, such as diabetes.
  • Wash your child's feet regularly, and rub lotion into your child's feet while they are still moist. Dry skin can cause a callus to crack and bleed.
  • Never cut the corn or callus yourself. This is even more important if your child has problems with blood flow to the legs or feet or problems with numbness or feeling in the feet.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the corn or callus.
    • Red streaks leading from the corn or callus.
    • Pus draining from the corn or callus.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.