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  • Michelle Reynolds

Have I got a corn or a verruca?

What do verrucas look like and how to tell if you have a corn or a verruca!

Verruca or Corn?

So you think you have a verruca, or a corn? There are many different skin conditions that can occur on the foot. We often see patients who think, or have been told, they have a verruca, and it turns out to be something very different indeed. To use the most appropriate treatment you need to know what the lesion actually is. There are signs to look for to determine whether you have a corn or a verruca (or something completely different). But if you are even slightly unsure get in touch and our friendly podiatrists will take a look.

How can you tell if you really have a verruca and not a corn?


The pesky verruca! Verrucas are caused by a viral infection. Verrucas are warts on the foot caused by a few variants of the human papilloma virus. They are generally considered to be harmless and do not have to be treated, particularly if they are not causing any discomfort or distress. However, they can be painful, especially if they get a lot of hard skin growing over the top. Some people are bothered by their appearance, leading them to seek treatment.

Elsewhere on the body warts stick out from the skin like fleshy growths. On the feet they are usually flatter and rough looking, but there are signs you can look for to distinguish them from corns:

  1. Look for the patterns on your skin. When you look closely at your skin you can see lines known as dermatoglyphics, like the fingerprint pattern. On close examination of verrucas you can see that these lines divert around the verruca, whereas with corns or calluses the lines are visible within the lesions.

  2. If the verruca is on a non-weightbearing area such as the top of a toe, it can stick out like a wart would elsewhere and may look a little cauliflowery in appearance.

  3. Verrucas tend to be flat with clear borders and overlying hard skin when on weightbearing areas.

  4. You can sometimes see very small dark brown or black dots in the verruca. These are small bleeds in the wart.

  5. It has been reported that verrucas are only painful when squeezed, whereas corns are painful when pressed. In our experience this is not always accurate, and pain varies from patient to patient.

a small verruca on the sole of the foot near the second toe
Verruca Plantar wart

Verruca treatment can be challenging as viruses are hard to eradicate. The most effective verruca treatments stimulate the body's own immune system to fight off the virus. Here at Michelle Reynolds Podiatry we offer the two most effective verruca treatments available: Falknor's Needling method and Swift Microwave Treatment. Click here for more information about these treatment options.


Corns, known as helomas, are small, often round dense areas of hardened skin that form over an area of high pressure. We often see corns between toes where the toes rub together, on the top of toes where shoes rub, and under the ball of the foot.

Corns are caused by pressure leading the skin to thicken and grow to strengthen and protect itself from the irritation. Prominent joints and bones, as well as areas with little natural fleshy padding are most vulnerable to developing corns. Corns are not caused by infection.

Corns can be described as like walking on a stone or having a pebble in the shoe, indeed the hard skin often forms like a little ball or piece of grit. They can be extremely painful when walking or when pressed. They can also damage the healthy skin underneath the corn if the pressure is not reduced, and can lead to ulceration and infection.

Corns normally just look like a small thick patch of hard skin. They usually appear yellowish or grey in comparison to regular skin. They can be bruised, inflamed, or discoloured. And occasionally you can see the outline of the "core" or centre of the corn, known as the nucleus.

a corn on the top of the knuckle of a little toe
Corn heloma durum

Corns are best removed by a HCPC registered podiatrist who will use sterilised equipment to swiftly and safely remove the excess thick skin, and give you advice to help prevent the corn recurring. Please do not be tempted to use medicated corn plasters as a quick fix. These products usually contain an acid which aims to burn and lift the corn away, however the product can slip and burn healthy skin leading to increased pain, damaged skin and infection... whilst the corn remains!

So, corn or verruca? Which do you think you have?

Or do you have both? Just to really confuse the situation you can get collision lesions. This is where two different skin conditions/lesions affect the same area of skin at the same time! So it is quite possible to have a verruca and a corn on the same patch of skin! How annoying. Another clue to diagnosis... warts/verrucas are more common in children, whereas corns generally occur in adulthood. Although this is not always the case.

For a professional diagnosis it is best to book an appointment with one of our HCPC registered Podiatrists. As you can see from the photos above verrucas and corns can look very alike! We can accurately assess & diagnose the lesion, and then thoroughly discuss all the treatment options available to you!

Call us on 0161 427 4937 or send an email to and take your first step towards healthier feet today!



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