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Calluses and corns - info for kids

blister; corn; callus; feet; hands; foot;


What's a callus?

We really do have amazing bodies!

If our brain finds that skin is being rubbed too much then it sends help to defend that area.  

Sometimes fluid comes up under the skin. This is called a blister. (Our topic Blisters will tell you more about these).

playing some sports can give you blisters, calluses or corns

If an area is being rubbed regularly then the body makes extra layers of thick skin to protect that area. These extra layers of skin can become thick and hard and we call this a callus (say cal-uss). A callus usually looks grayish in colour and it feels hard and a bit rough if you touch it with your fingers.

  • playing the guitarYou may get a callus on your heels or under your feet near your toes if you wear shoes that are too tight or don't fit well.
  • You can also get calluses on your hands if you play sports like cricket, baseball, tennis or any other sport where you are going to practise for a long time and the bat or stick rubs on your hands.
  • Kids who do gymnastics, play on the monkey bars or play an instrument like the guitar may also get calluses on their hands where the skin is always being rubbed or pressed hard.  

Calluses usually do not cause any pain.

What's a corn?

corns hurtA corn is also an area of hard, tough skin. But, it has a centre of grey hard skin and a circle around it of soft yellowish skin.

You can get corns on the top of, or in between your toes, where shoes have been rubbing or pressing the toes together. Some people may get corns on the sides of their thumbs or fingers.

Most of the people who get corns are adults.

Corns can be painful.

How to avoid calluses and blisters 

Make sure that:

  • on the Bar - calluses in gymnasticsYou wear shoes which fit well and don't squash your toes or rub your heels.
  • Buy shoes later in the day when your feet have swollen a bit from all the work they've been doing carrying you around so the shoes are not too tight.
  • Wear batting gloves which are designed for the sport you are playing and wear them when you are practising too.
  • Wear work gloves if you are working around the garden.
  •  Use special palm protectors if you are doing gymnastics.
  • Some athletes use sticky dressings or bandages to protect their hands and give them a better grip.

Building up a callus on your fingers can be helpful if you are learning to play stringed instruments like the guitar. It takes a while so be prepared for sore fingers.

What to do about them

Blisters will go away by themselves.

  • Stop doing the thing that is causing the blister - for example change to wearing a different pair of shoes if possible.
  • Cover the blistered area with a dressing to protect it especially if skin has peeled off the blistered area.

swinging on a barThe blistered area will heal by itself if it is kept clean and dry, and the rubbing stops. Cover it with a dressing to protect it if you need to wear shoes that rub on it.

Calluses can protect your skin when it is rubbed a lot so you may not need to get rid of them at all. For example if you need to run around a lot without shoes on, calluses on your feet will help protect them.
If you play the guitar calluses on your fingers help protect the tips of your fingers.

If you do want to get rid of a callus then you can:

  • playing Australian Rules footballSoak it in warm, soapy water until it feels softer.
  • Rub it with a pumice (say pum-iss) stone to rub off the thickened skin. You can get one from the chemist or supermarket. 
  • You may need to do this several times.
  • If the callus is very thick, don't try rubbing it all off at once as you could damage your skin. In fact it's better to get an adult to help you.
  • You can get special pads to fit under the foot which will help if you have hard calluses on the sole of your foot.
  • You can use a special cream or balm to soften hard skin.

Corns can be quite painful so most people do want to get rid of them.

  • You can get rid of corns by getting a special corn plaster from the chemist. Get the chemist to tell you how to use them or follow the instructions on the packet carefully.
  • You can get special pads which will protect the corn from being rubbed. This makes them more comfortable.

If you are having problems with corns or calluses then see your doctor or a special foot specialist called a podiatrist (say po-dy-a-trist)

Kids say

"Pencils can give you calluses if you press too hard. If you can't press lightly you should get a pencil grip. It works for me." Jack

"Sometimes I get sore fingers from playing my PSP too long." Kane  

Dr Kim says

Dr KimFeet and hands do a lot of work for us so it's sensible to protect them whenever we can. Keep an eye on them and always treat them straight away if you have a cut or sore place.

I get a sore spot on my wrist if I am using a computer mouse for a long time. I have got a special mouse pad with a gel cushion to rest my wrist on, and that helps.

If your big toe turns towards your other toes and you have a sore bump on the outside where your big joins your foot, you may have a bunion (say bun-ee-on). This is a deformity of the big toe and can be very painful. See your doctor or podiatrist.

Often making sure that shoes fit well will help, but if you get pain or an infection see your doctor.

Our topics Look after your feet and Your wonderful hands may be helpful to you.

                 on the rings - calluses in gymnastics        playing tennis

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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