Corn vs Wart: What’s the Difference?

Corn vs Wart: What’s the Difference?

If you notice a skin growth or bump on your foot, distinguishing between a wart and a corn can be challenging due to their similar appearance. Even doctors sometimes face difficulty in telling them apart. Despite their similarities, it's important to note that warts and corns are distinct conditions. Here's a guide on how to differentiate between them and practical tips on treating and preventing both.

Corn vs Wart

Corn vs Wart

So, what sets them apart? The key lies in the visual characteristics of these skin growths, their location, and their primary causes.

What is a wart?

What is a wart?

Warts are small skin growths that can manifest on the feet, although they can also appear elsewhere on the body. According to Mayo Clinic, common areas include the hands and fingers.

These growths are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a contagious virus transmitted through direct and indirect contact. Interestingly, not all exposed individuals immediately develop warts; it can take up to six months after exposure for one to appear.

Not everyone exposed to the virus will develop a wart; a robust immune system can help fend off the virus. Some warts may resemble corns, being small, flesh-colored, and rough to the touch. However, a distinguishing feature is that warts often appear grainy and may have black dots or pinpoints scattered around them.

While warts can be painful and cluster together, they are generally harmless and tend to disappear gradually on their own.

What is a corn?

What is a corn?

A corn is a thickened layer of skin that develops due to constant friction and pressure, commonly forming on the toes and feet.

In contrast to warts, which have a grainy, fleshy appearance with black pinpoints, corns present as raised, hard bumps surrounded by dry, flaky skin.

An important distinction is that corns are not caused by a virus and are non-contagious. Wearing shoes that are either too tight or too loose can contribute to the development of corns – tight shoes exert excessive pressure, while loose ones cause the feet to slide constantly within the shoe.

Both warts and corns share similarities, such as appearing as small, rough skin growths, manifesting on hands and feet, and being painful and tender to the touch. However, they differ in several ways:


  • Can appear anywhere on the body
  • Have grainy bumps with black pinpoints
  • Are caused by a virus


  • Only appear on the feet
  • Are hard, raised, and flaky
  • Are caused by friction and pressure

How to treat a wart

How to treat a wart

Warts typically resolve on their own without requiring treatment, although the process may take up to 1 to 2 years, similar to the time it takes for them to appear.

For faster relief from a painful wart, over-the-counter wart removal products, available in patch, liquid, or ointment forms, can be used. These products work by softening and dissolving the wart.

If OTC products prove ineffective, a doctor might recommend a prescription-strength wart remover or alternative therapies such as:

  • Liquid nitrogen to freeze off the wart.
  • Laser treatments to burn off the wart.
  • Minor surgery to cut off the wart.

There's also a home remedy involving duct tape, although its effectiveness is debated. To try this method, cover the wart with duct tape for about a week. After removing the duct tape, soak the wart in water, then gently file away the dead tissue using a pumice stone.

How to treat a corn

How to treat a corn

To address a corn, the initial step involves eliminating the source of continuous friction and pressure. Switching to properly fitting shoes is crucial.

Consider using shoe inserts or pads to offer additional cushioning and minimize irritation.

Self-care measures include soaking your feet in water to soften the corn, followed by gently filing down the skin using a pumice stone.

Applying moisturizer to your feet can help alleviate dryness or flakiness around the corn.

If a painful corn persists despite home treatment, consult your doctor for an in-office visit, where they can remove the skin growth.

Who’s at risk for a wart or a corn?

Warts and corns can affect anyone, but certain individuals are more prone to developing them due to specific risk factors.

For warts, a weakened immune system increases susceptibility to these growths since they are caused by a virus. Those at risk include:

  • Children
  • Young adults
  • Individuals with chronic conditions that compromise the immune system, such as HIV

Risk factors for corns involve wearing poorly fitting shoes or having a foot bone deformity, like a bunion or hammer toe. These conditions can lead to toes rubbing against each other or the sides of shoes.

How can you prevent warts and corns?

Preventing warts

To minimize the risk of developing a wart, it's important to avoid direct contact with the virus. Refrain from holding or shaking hands with individuals who have warts, and avoid using personal care items belonging to those with warts, such as nail clippers, nail files, or pumice stones.

For individuals already dealing with a wart, it's advisable not to pick at it or bite fingernails, as this behavior can potentially spread the virus to other parts of the body.

Preventing corns

To avoid developing a corn, ensure that your shoes fit correctly. Your toes should have enough room to wiggle inside your shoes. If your shoes are too tight, it can lead to the formation of corns.

Conversely, if your feet constantly slide within your shoes, it indicates that the shoes are too big, and you should consider opting for a smaller pair to prevent the occurrence of corns.


Despite their similar appearances, a wart and a corn are distinct types of skin growths.

Differentiating between these two growths is not only essential for effective treatment but also aids in identifying whether you have Human Papillomavirus (HPV). If you test positive for HPV, understanding these differences enables you to take proactive measures to manage symptoms and prevent transmission.

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