How to Identify and Treat Seed Corns on Feet

How to Identify and Treat Seed Corns on Feet

Oliwia Urban 

If you are experiencing foot pain or discomfort, it may be due to the development of seed corns on your feet. Seed corns are small, hard, circular spots of skin that can be found on the sole of your foot. They are typically associated with dry skin and can cause discomfort or pain when pressure is applied or when they occur in weight-bearing areas.

Seed Corn vs. Callus

Calluses are also hard areas of thickened skin that can appear due to prolonged friction or pressure. They can be very similar in appearance to corns. However, there are some ways to help distinguish a callus from a corn, including:

  • Size: Calluses are typically larger than corns, especially seed corns.
  • Shape: While seed corns (and other types of corns) are typically round and well-defined, calluses can vary greatly in shape.
  • Location: Calluses more often appear in the areas of your feet that bear weight, such as around your heel or the ball of the foot.
  • Pain: It’s rare for a callus to be painful. However, if the skin of a callus becomes cracked, pain may occur.

Seed Corn vs. Plantar Wart

A plantar wart is a wart that develops on the sole of your foot. Plantar warts are caused by infection with specific types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Seed corns and plantar warts can look very similar, appearing as hard, thickened areas of skin. Additionally, both types of lesions may cause pain when pressure is applied to the bottom of your foot.

Because of these similarities, seed corns and plantar warts may be difficult to tell apart. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Size: While plantar warts may be small, they can also become large. Seed corns are always small.
  • Skin lines: The skin on the bottom of your foot has natural lines and creases. Plantar warts disrupt these lines while seed corns do not.
  • Tiny dots: Plantar warts often have tiny brown or black dots inside them.

If you are having trouble identifying whether a lesion on your foot is a seed corn or a plantar wart, seek medical advice. Your doctor may take a skin sample (biopsy) to examine under a microscope.

Treatment for Seed Corns

If you have seed corns on your feet, you can do the following things at home to treat them:

  • Reduce thickened skin: There are some steps that you can take to thin your skin that has thickened due to seed corns:
  • Filing: You can use a pumice stone or emery board to gradually file away layers of thick skin. Be sure to do this gently and not to file away too much skin to avoid injury.
  • Over-the-counter medications: These products contain salicylic acid. They’re available as liquids or pads. Avoid using these if you have diabetes or another condition that affects blood flow.
  • Soak your feet: According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, soaking your feet in warm, soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes softens seed corns. This makes them easier to remove.
  • Moisturize: Apply a moisturizer to the soles of your feet to hydrate and soften your skin.
  • Consider footwear: While treating your seed corns, aim to wear comfortable and fitting socks and shoes that provide proper support and minimize friction.

With proper at-home care, seed corns can eventually go away. However, if the seed corns persist or do not improve with self-treatment, it is recommended to seek medical attention. Never attempt to trim down seed corns yourself, as this can lead to infection and further complications.

Prevention of Seed Corns

To prevent the formation or recurrence of seed corns, consider the following measures:

  • Choose shoes carefully: Ill-fitting shoes are a common cause of corns. When selecting shoes, prioritize the following factors:
  • A good fit: Ensure that your shoes fit well and provide adequate support. Your foot should not slide back and forth in them while walking, and seams or stitches should not excessively press on any part of your feet.
  • Plenty of toe room: Make sure there is enough space for comfortable toe movement. If your toes feel cramped, the shoes are likely too tight.
  • Low heel: High-heeled shoes apply additional pressure to your feet, increasing the risk of corn formation.
  • Wear socks: Wearing socks with your shoes can help reduce friction on your feet, thereby minimizing the likelihood of developing seed corns.
  • Moisturize: Dry skin is associated with seed corns, so make it a habit to moisturize the bottoms of your feet regularly. This helps keep the skin hydrated and less prone to thickening.
  • Consider pads or inserts: Stick-on pads or removable shoe inserts can help alleviate pressure and friction on specific areas of your feet, reducing the chances of seed corn formation.

When to Seek Medical Help

It is advisable to make an appointment with your doctor if you experience the following concerning symptoms associated with seed corns:

  • Severe pain
  • Significant interference with daily activities
  • Inflammation or signs of infection

Individuals with diabetes or other conditions that affect blood flow in the feet are at a higher risk of infection from minor injuries during self-treatment. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before attempting to treat seed corns on your own.

In most cases, a doctor can diagnose seed corns through a simple examination of your feet and provide appropriate guidance and treatment recommendations.


Seed corns are small, hard spots of thickened skin that commonly develop on the soles of the feet. Although they are usually asymptomatic, they can cause discomfort when pressure is applied. It’s important to differentiate seed corns from calluses and plantar warts based on their characteristics.

If you have seed corns, you can try various at-home treatments such as reducing thickened skin, soaking your feet, and moisturizing. However, persistent or severe cases should be evaluated by a medical professional. By taking preventive measures and seeking appropriate treatment when needed, you can effectively manage seed corns and maintain foot health.