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What is Toe Jam?

Author: Craig Payne
by Craig Payne
Posted: May 06, 2022
between toes

Toe Jam is not a diagnosis or a medical term and is a phrase for that unpleasant stuff that accumulates between the toes that jokes are often made about it. However, you do need to take it seriously as on occasion it can lead to complications. The build up between the toes is made up of a number of things that include the lint from socks, especially if they are new, dead skin cells and flake, dirt, sweat and other debris that we get expose to. Toe jam can have the consistency of a soft cheese and vary in colour from a white to a greyish brown. It tends to build up more in the dark and moist tight spaces between toes, especially if shoes are worn all day. A cheese like foot odour may develop from bacterial breakdown of the skin cells. The bacteria mostly responsible for this cheese like odour is Brevibacterium linens bacteria. Interestingly, this is also the bacteria is used in some cheese manufacturing processes. This problem is a lot more common in those who live in damp and warm environments, whose feet sweat more such as athletes, those who wear closed-in footwear, those who have poor foot hygiene and don’t inspect their feet, who don’t wash their feet regularly and who don’t dry between the toes. Some occupations such as those that require closed in footwear in warmer environments can also increase the risk for this. If this problem is not dealt with there are a number of complications that can develop, such as bacterial and fungal infections. The skin can macerate and splits can develop in the skin between the toes. A number of conditions can appear similar to toe jam and if this does become a problem, then a proper investigation may be needed to determine this. This can include things like corns between the toes and a variety of infections.

The best way to treat toe jam is with good foot hygiene practices that involve regular bathing and cleaning between the toes and drying between the toes that will prevent the accumulation of the products that lead to the problem. Clean absorbent socks should be worn daily and changed after exercise to help absorb sweat. If possible, make use of footwear that will allow the sweat to evaporate or wick moisture away from the foot. Those with a sweaty foot problem might need to undertake additional measures, such as using absorbent insoles and socks. Any fungal infection will need to be treated with anti-fungal agents. Special attention will need to be paid to those who have difficulties with self care if they have problems with mobility or vision. Advice will need to be given to carers and/or family members regarding carrying out self-care and practicing good foot hygiene. There are a number of commercially available foot cleaning aids and brushes that can be used to facilitate this. Above all, toe jam, is not serious, but you should take it seriously especially if you have something like diabetes as it can lead to further complications.

About the Author

Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.

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Author: Craig Payne
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Craig Payne

Member since: Aug 16, 2020
Published articles: 198

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