FootCareDirect Footcare Resource

Corns, Calluses, IPK

Corns and calluses are the most common conditions on the skin of the foot.


A corn, which is a thickening of the outer layer of skin, usually occurs on the tops of the toes.

Calluses, which are the same condition on the bottom of the feet, are caused by sheering pressures.

Corns and calluses are the foot's defense against friction and pressure. These conditions are usually painful but can respond to conservative care.

IPK Metatarsul

In severe cases of calluses on the bottom of the foot, an IPK can develop. An IPK is, in medical terminology, an

  • Intractable, meaning that it will not go away,
  • Plantar, meaning bottom of the foot,
  • Keretosis, meaning a deep seated painful callus that usually occurs under a weight bearing metatarsal (long bone of the foot).


The first line of defense for corns, calluses or IPK is a good supporting shoe that has a wide toe box and a low heel.

There are many over-the-counter products that can help ease the pain of corns and calluses, items such as pads, lotions/creams, pumice stones and callus removers, foot baths, and scrub brushes are also helpful for these conditions. Regular use of a paraffin bath also helps reduce callus build-up.

Other useful treatments for corns and calluses are orthotics, a device to realign the mechanical disturbance of the foot. Although you can purchase orthotics over-the-counter, this device is usually made from a cast of the foot and is prescribed by a Podiatrist.

If corns and calluses persist then professional treatment by a podiatrist and/or an orthopedist who is trained in these areas is indicated. A severe form of callus - an IPK - may need surgery. Usually a doctor will obtain x-rays to ascertain whether or not there is an underlining bone spur. If the condition is painful enough and non-responsive to topical medications and debridement, then surgical correction is indicated.

There are many types of surgeries to employ to correct this problem. A "V" osteotomy (cutting of the bone) is the most common osteotomy for the second, third and fourth metatarsal, and an oblique osteotomy for the fifth metatarsal. Sometimes internal fixation, pins or screws, are used to help stabilize the bones when surgery is indicated. These surgeries are usually done under a local block anesthesia, and the patient is usually ambulatory (walking) immediately after the surgery in a post operative Cast Walking Boot. The newer medications make this procedure safe and pain free, but your doctor needs to be consulted as to specific cause for the specific treatment.