Because hard corns usually are caused by a combination of narrow-toed shoes and toe deformities, they can be treated in different ways. One way is to wear wider shoes or sandals. Another treatment is to fix the bone problem in the toes. If the toes are flexible and can be straightened, an orthotic or a small pad may enable the toe to return to a normal position and reduce pressure and friction. These treatments are seldom a permanent solution.
Hard corns also may be cut or burned off with a topical acid solution. This treatment does not correct the underlying problem, so the corns often recur.
When the toes are not flexible, surgery may be performed. In some cases, the toe is held in an abnormal position because the soft tissue around the bones has become stiff. If the soft tissue is released, the toe may straighten. This surgery is explained in the section on hammertoes.
People with soft corns caused by excessively wide toe bones can switch to wider shoes with more room between the toes. Usually, however, this does not provide adequate relief.
In some cases, surgery is performed to treat soft corns. In this procedure, the podiatrist makes a small incision in the toe, grinds down the piece of bone that causes the irritation, and closes the incision with a couple of stitches.
This surgery can be performed in the doctor's office, the recovery time is brief, and most patients obtain relief almost immediately.