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Friday, January 25, 2019

Toe Jam

     Toe jam is common non-medical term used to describe the 'gunk' that accumulates between the toes. Often considered to be nothing more than sock lint (cotton socks may shred fibers that find a home between the toes), it is actually a combination of a lot of things: dead skin cells, sock debris, dirt, body oil residue, fungus and bacteria. Scabies, a parasitic skin mite, often burrows between the toes and is associated with poor hygiene. However, it's important to know that not all toe jam is the same because it can result in serious medical issues for some and should not be neglected. 
     Some people are more prone to toe jam than others because of certain lifestyles, footwear or medical conditions. People who are on their feet for longer periods of time, individuals who have a tendency to sweat more, who wear shoes that have poor ventilation and breathability and people who are overweight tend to be more predisposed to developing toe jam. 
     Toe jam could indicate or lead to a more serious condition and if the cause is an infection things can quickly go from a nuisance to a serious medical problem. Some skin conditions (such as eczema and psoriasis) may result in flaking dry skin that may end up between the toes and ball up due to sweat. If it's due to those conditions then you should not place steroids on an infection, as it may cause a worse infection, so its important to have a proper diagnosis. 
     Corns and calluses can be another source when pressure spots between the toes develop a thickened layer of skin which can become softened due to toe sweat and become gooey and smelly. This most commonly occurs between the fourth and fifth toes, and is associated with hammer toes. 
Hammer toes

     Fungus and bacteria love warm, dark and enclosed places so the area between the toes makes a good home for them. Living in the mix of toe jam, they can cause an infection which may become more serious and travel up the foot and leg. This is especially the case for people with diabetes. 
     Dermatologist recommend inspecting for toe jam on a regular basis because one of the deadliest forms of cancer, malignant melanoma, quite often will appear in the foot first, mainly on the heel, but also in between the toes, which is a common hiding place for this aggressive cancer. 
     Keep your feet clean. Wash thoroughly between the toes with soap and water and be sure to dry your feet. 
    Here is another type of toe jam...


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