Toe Injuries and Illnesses and How to Take Care of Them

· June 9, 2016
It is very important that you choose your shoes well because if they don't fit right, they might squeeze your toes too much and you may get toe injuries. Also, when you get home,  you should always take your shoes off so your feet don't suffer.

We often forget the humble toes on our feet leading to toe injuries. In fact, we only notice them when they get chafed, or when joint deformities start to form bunions (hallux vulgus). And this is so painful!

So what can you do? What type of precautions can you take?

Today, we want to focus on these types of problems and toe injuries that are so common, especially in women, along with how you should treat them.

Most common toe injuries and problems

We spend the majority of the day with our toes closed up and squeezed into shoes that aren’t always the best choice for them.

We may not be aware of it, but it’s not uncommon that over the years of using inappropriate shoes, toes will grow deformed and atrophied due to a lack of movement.

It is very important that in some way, you balance out this fake enclosure for your feet. We’re not talking only about the types of shoes you wear, but also about small exercises that you can do with your toes to prevent them from atrophying.

Check out this article:

5 Tips to Prevent Your New Shoes from Hurting You

So, let’s first take a moment to analyze some common toe problems.

1. Bunions (hallux vulgus): one of the most common toe injuries

A lot of people say that we cause bunions by using the wrong type of shoes for a long period of time, but this isn’t entirely true.

In fact, people that “never wear shoes” have this deformity as well. So if this is the case, what is it that causes them? Here are three common causes:

  • Sometimes you’re predisposed to developing this condition. Sometimes this anomaly is hereditary, and therefore congenital, passed down from mother to daughter or father to son.
  • If you’re genetically predisposed and you also use inappropriate shoes, you can worsen the problem, or make it appear much sooner.
  • Having flat feet: especially if your big toes sticks out farther than the others.  An excessively large big toe (known as an Egyptian toe) is the most common cause of bunions. This is because the big toe is the most prominent and you can end up squeezing it with your shoes. Over time, this will create a bunion.

How can bunions be treated?

  • Clearly, we cannot always prevent bunions. So if your family members have bunions it would be a good idea to avoid closed-toe shoes from an early age.
  • It is important that you do exercises that promote toe movement, like walking. Try to grab things off the floor with your toes (cloths, towels, etc).
  • If you already have bunions, it is important that you prevent them from becoming inflamed. Take relaxing foot baths and add rosemary or lavender to the water.
  • And lastly, bunions can prevent you from walking properly, which could turn into a spinal problem. This means that over time, you may need surgical intervention.

2. Ingrown toenails: painful toe injuries

Using a cotton ball to heal an ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenail: a possible cause of toenail injuries.

Having an ingrown toenail is as common as it is painful.  Have you ever had one?

  • Ingrown toenails are caused by using shoes that are too tight and it almost always affects the big toe.
  • The way you cut your toenails could also lead to ingrown toenails.  Sometimes you may cut them too short, or you leave the edges square rather than rounding them off.  This creates a point that can dig into the skin.
  • Remember: a lot of people are born with toenails that curve down, sunk into the skin and this could make them more prone to developing this condition.

You may also like:

Prevent and Treat Ingrown Toenails – Learn How Here!

How to prevent ingrown toenails

  • Soak your feet in hot water.
  • Don’t cut your toenails too short or leave them with sharp, pointy edges that could damage your skin.
  • Avoid using overly tight shoes that could squeeze your big toe.

3. Calluses, inflammation and pain in the toes

Relaxing foot bath

Who has never had a blister or callus on their feet? Probably not many of you. It is actually quite common and can be very tiring.

The feet have 26 bones and 14 of those are in the toes.  So, if your toes hurt, you might not walk well and this means you cannot confidently or comfortably face the day.

What causes this type of problem?

  • Wearing high heels or tight socks
  • Dry feet
  • Lack of exfoliation
  • Calluses generally appear on the heels or the side of the big or little toe and are caused by rubbing. It can become a more painful problem with time.

What can I do to treat calluses or rubbing?

  • If you often spend several hours in closed-toe shoes, take a relaxing foot bath when you get home and try to exfoliate your heels. Massage the toes and apply rose hip essential oil to them before going to bed. Wear comfortable socks while sleeping.
  • In order to remove calluses, make an infusion with one liter of water and 100 grams of nettle. Then pour this into a tub and soak your feet for 20 minutes.
  • Afterwards, scrub your heels with a pumice stone.
  • To finish, massage your feet and toes with chamomile essential oil.

Nix, S., Smith, M., & Vicenzino, B. (2010). Prevalence of hallux valgus in the general population: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/1757-1146-3-21

Daniel, C. R., Iorizzo, M., Tosti, A., & Piraccini, B. M. (2006). Ingrown toenails. Cutis.