To anyone unfamiliar with the visible symptoms, determining whether you are suffering from a wart or a callus can be frustrating at best. Both calluses and warts are common on the hands and feet, especially in adults. Correctly diagnosing your condition is important because warts and calluses are dealt with in entirely different ways, and they both have unique causes. Worry not though because learning the features that reveal if the problem is a wart or callus are fairly simple.

Is it a callus or a wart?

Which is it may be your first question when you notice unusual bumps or areas of skin on your hands and feet. Truthfully it could happen nearly anywhere but the hands and feet are the most common areas for calluses and warts to occur. On the hands, it is typically easier to tell a callus from a wart as a wart looks like flesh colored bumps whereas a callus does not. On the feet, however, a wart and callus can look far more similar. To make matters worse, plantar warts often have a callus develop directly over or around them necessitating the treatment of both for relief.


Corns and calluses are the results of pressure or friction.

Sometimes it is fairly obvious which of the two you have just by considering your occupation, hobbies, and habits. While it is possible for anyone to develop warts, calluses occur for a specific reason. Warts are often the only symptoms with no known cause. For an overview of wart symptoms to make identification easier, follow this link. The repetition of friction and pressure ultimately cause a callus to develop. The formation of a callus is the body’s way of protecting itself from pain and sore, raw skin.

Some likely sources of a callus include:

  • Constantly used in manual and repetitive labor.
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit well.
  • Going barefoot for most of the day.
  • Repeated finger pressure activities such as playing guitar.
  • Walking and standing for long periods of time.

Corns, calluses, and warts: What is the difference?

Corns, calluses, and warts can all be quite painful when located on the feet. To end the problem of discomfort when pressure is applied, you must first figure out which of the three issues you have. While corns and calluses can be dealt with in generally the same fashion, warts are a different case entirely. The sooner you identify your affliction, the sooner you can apply the most efficient treatment to end it.

Calluses, as mentioned previously, are areas of thick, hardened skin built up as a response to repeated pressure. Calluses often are not painful because they develop as a way to prevent pain. When formed over a wart or if allowed to grow overly thick, they can still cause some pain or discomfort. Calluses are frequently gray or white with the occasional yellow tint. These are located on weight-bearing parts of the foot.

Corn and callusCorns are similar to calluses, but they come in two types, a hard corn, and a soft corn. Hard corns are usually positioned on the top of the foot and as such are directly related to poorly fitting shoes and deformity of hammertoes. Soft corns occur between the toes and are areas of soft white, often sore skin that is easily torn and infected. Hard corns have the same texture of calluses, but the hardened, dry skin shell has a soft core allowing it to be pressed on. Hard corns are also usually yellow.

Warts are not formed from pressure or friction and are instead the result of the human papillomavirus. This distinction means they cannot simply be soaked and filed down like hard corns and calluses can and will instead need a different type of treatment. Warts are areas of infected skin that often look like a bump or resemble cauliflower. While you cannot simply resolve the underlying infection, you can directly treat warts or have them removed by your doctor.

Do I have a callus or plantar wart?

A plantar wart and a callus on the bottom of the foot can prove to be difficult to tell apart. Since they both have the potential to cause pain as well as remain for very long periods of time if not removed, learning the differences is a good idea. You must always keep in mind that calluses can and do form over warts so your problem may also be combined and cause trouble for removal.

Corn and callus treatment tip
Corns and calluses are easy to treat, with many callus removers easily located at your local drug store. Self-treatment is not suggested in those who suffer from diabetes and can be dangerous or cause infection. Please see your doctor for corn, callus and wart treatment if you are diabetic.

Callus and plantar wartsThere are several steps you can take to determine whether the skin problem on the bottom of your foot is a callus or plantar wart.

These steps include:

  1. Applying direct pressure to the area.
  2. Squeezing around the lesion from both sides.
  3. Looking for black dots or specks.
  4. Checking for footprint line locations.

How to identify

Pain and coloration are great indicators for identification of warts and calluses. Calluses tend to be hard, gray or white, while warts are soft with a wider range of colors. Dark or skin colored while being soft to the touch is also a symptom of skin tags. If you can’t tell the difference of skin tags vs warts and need more information, click here.

Look your feetIf painful, calluses will cause pain from direct pressure. Pressing hard against the area with a palm is a good way to tell if your lesion is a callus or a wart. Warts, on the other hand, are painful when squeezed or pressed from the sides. If bringing fingers together in a pinching motion around the lesion causes pain then you are likely dealing with a wart.

Black dots or specks visible on the lesion is a definite sign of a wart. These bloody specks are often mislabeled as a wart root. To learn the truth about the so-called wart root, see this article.

A callus is hardened, dead skin and will not have a blood supply and thus no black specks. Additionally, warts grow between footprints; the lines will never continue across the top of a wart. Calluses are just normal skin, so the lines of a footprint will grow across them. The color is another factor that can make determining callus from wart easy. Calluses are usually gray, white or yellowish. Warts often have much darker coloration.

Plantar warts vs corns

Luckily corns are very easy to differentiate from plantar warts as opposed to calluses. The simplest way to know whether you have a plantar wart or a corn is by its location. Corns are most often on the tops of toes and sometimes between toes. Plantar warts exist on the bottoms of feet exclusively. Therefore any lesions on the top of the toes could not be plantar warts. They can, however, be normal warts.

How to differentiate between Corn, Calluses, and Plantar Warts?Other signs that your foot problem is likely a corn include:

  • White, moist skin between toes.
  • Located on the tops of toes.
  • Lack of black specks.
  • Hard, yellowish or gray skin.

Hard corns tend to follow the same rules for calluses with minor color differences. Corns are more likely to be painful from pressure in all directions so the pressure test may proof ineffective. However, based on the parts of the foot corns occupy they are nearly impossible to confuse with plantar warts. Both issues affect different parts of the foot and have different symptoms.

Discovering a skin problem on your foot can be frustrating, particularly if it is painful. Not knowing whether it is a normal callus or a plantar wart is especially disconcerting. Thankfully there are clear differences between warts and calluses from causes to symptoms. Using this guide can help you determine which you are suffering from and speed the way to treatment and recovery if necessary.

You can find further details of Warts here.