keep away from toe jam, that icky buildup between your toes

Toe jam, the gunk and particles between your toes, even made it right into a Beatles music.

Nevertheless it was unlikely John Lennon was excited about foot hygiene when he wrote the lyrics to the second verse of “Come Collectively“:

He put on no shoeshine, he bought toe-jam soccer
He bought monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, ”I do know you, you recognize me”
One factor I can let you know is you bought to be free.

Toe jam is not a medical time period. There isn’t a formal medical time period to explain the lifeless pores and skin cells, sweat, sock lint and dust that mix within the small and infrequently cramped areas between our toes.

Toe jam can have the consistency of sentimental cheese or cake crumbs. It could possibly scent or be odorless. And its shade can vary from white to gray-brown.

You are extra prone to create toe jam in the event you put on closed-in sneakers when it is scorching, or gum boots that do not permit sweat to evaporate.

Poor foot hygiene will definitely make it extra possible you may develop toe jam. That is as a result of sweaty particles accumulates in between the toes in the event you do not take note of cleansing these areas within the bathe or bathtub.

Toe jam may additionally be extra possible in case your ft sweat lots for different causes. As an example, we all know sweaty ft could be a downside for youngsters and adolescents, who’ve extra energetic sweat glands. And a few folks have a critical medical situation referred to as hyperhidrosis, the place they sweat excessively.

Is toe jam like athlete’s foot?

The gathering of sweat and lifeless pores and skin between toes gives micro organism residing naturally on our pores and skin the prospect to thrive.

These micro organism, which embrace ones within the genus Brevibacterium, feed on sweat, releasing molecules that give the attribute “tacky” scent of sweaty ft. Brevibacterium can also be used to ripen some cheeses.
This heat and damp setting can also be an ideal website for tinea pedis, a fungal pores and skin an infection you would possibly know as athlete’s foot.
Indicators of tinea is perhaps soggy white pores and skin between your toes, which might be itchy, and pink areas, an indication of pores and skin harm. Broken pores and skin between toes would possibly develop small fluid-filled blisters and may additionally bleed if the weak pores and skin is torn.

So whereas toe jam is not the identical as tinea, it’d present the right circumstances for the fungus to develop.

How critical is toe jam?

Usually, toe jam is a minor well being downside. You may handle it with good foot hygiene. And in the event you develop tinea, you should utilize a brief course of an anti-fungal therapy you should purchase from a pharmacy (see under).

It’s fairly a unique prospect, nonetheless, for an individual residing with a persistent illness reminiscent of diabetes, somebody who has poor imaginative and prescient (so cannot see toe jam or its problems growing) or who could also be unable to achieve their ft because of restricted mobility.

Diabetes not effectively managed with eating regimen and train, or medicine, will increase the danger of an individual having diminished blood move (peripheral arterial illness) and diminished feeling of their ft (sensory neuropathy).

Damaged pores and skin between the toes attributable to tinea can turn out to be contaminated quickly, growing the danger of:
  • an infection spreading to the foot and leg (cellulitis)
  • an infection of the bone (osteomyelitis)
  • gangrene (lifeless tissue attributable to lack of blood move)
  • amputation of a toe, a part of the foot or leg.

So early identification of tinea in a weak individual is very necessary to forestall problems.

four methods to keep away from issues

Listed below are 4 tricks to keep away from issues with toe jam, together with growing tinea and its problems:

  1. Wash the areas between your toes and dry them rigorously after a bathe or bathtub, and after swimming. Gyms and swimming swimming pools are a typical place to choose up a fungal an infection in your ft so it is a good suggestion to put on thongs to scale back the danger of tinea.
  2. If potential, keep away from sporting footwear that does not permit sweat to evaporate (reminiscent of closed-in sneakers made from artificial materials and gum boots). Going barefoot, when there isn’t any threat of damage, may even permit sweat to evaporate.
  3. Deal with sweaty ft by utilizing an antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride. Extra extreme circumstances of hyperhidrosis could also be managed utilizing medicine, reminiscent of Botox injections to the ft. Fungal infections (tinea) must be handled utilizing over-the-counter antifungal lotions such a terbinafine or clotrimazole. Resistant infections would possibly require a course of prescribed antifungal medicines.
  4. Take note of indicators indicating an an infection is spreading from the foot. These might be ache and swelling within the toes, or pink streaks alongside the foot and up the leg. This requires an pressing go to to a podiatrist or physician.


Lennon mentions a “walrus gumboot” within the third verse of “Come Collectively.” The ultimate line of the second verse says “you bought to be free.” The duvet of the Beatles album “Abbey Street” reveals Paul McCartney strolling barefoot (second from the left).

Possibly the Beatles did know a factor or two about toe jam and foot well being.

The Conversation

Caroline Robinson is an affiliate professor of podiatry at Charles Sturt College in Australia. Luke Donnan is a lecturer in podiatry at Charles Sturt College. Robinson and Donnan are affiliated with the Australasian Council of Podiatry Deans and the Australian Podiatry Affiliation. Charles Sturt College gives funding as a member of The Dialog.

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