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Foot care health centre

Toe problems

The front section of the foot normally contains five toes (phalanges), which are connected to the five longer metatarsal bones. There are many different health conditions that can affect the toes, including skin, bone, soft tissue and circulatory problems, many of which can affect your ability to walk without pain.

In particular, people with diabetes should practise a diabetic foot care routine to avoid potentially serious problems that could lead to the need for amputation. Likewise, footcare is important for some people with arthritis. Osteoarthritis may be a cause of bunions. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the joints in the foot that lead to calluses and ulcerations, and it can cause deformity of the toes.

Here's an overview to the conditions that can cause toe problems.

Athlete's foot

A fungus growing on or in the top layer of skin, especially in warm, moist areas such as between the toes, is known as athlete's foot. The fungal infection is spread by direct contact with the condition on someone else or indirectly by contact with skin particles left on towels, shoes, floors of shower cubicles and changing rooms, and around swimming pools. An infection causes the sensation of burning and itching between toes and peeling and cracked skin.

Fungal nail infection

If a toenail becomes thick and white, or if it crumbles when you touch it, you most likely have a fungal nail infection, sometimes referred to as tinea. It looks worse than it actually is and can be treated. If not treated, a fungal nail infection can spread to the other nails.

Verrucas and warts

Small, rough raised lumps on the skin are known as warts if they are benign (non- cancerous). There are several types of warts, including verrucas, which are warts that occur on the soles of the feet and sometimes on the toes. Verrucas and warts are caused by a viral infection. Instead of sticking up from the skin, verrucas sink into the skin, which can be painful, and often have a black dot(s) in the centre.


A mole is a usually harmless brown or black growth on the skin, but sometimes a mole can turn cancerous. If you have a mole on your toe - or elsewhere - establish a regular mole and skin cancer screening routine at home.


Not to be confused with a corn, a callus is a hard, rough-feeling area of skin that can develop on a toe in an area of repeated friction, usually caused by poorly-fitting shoes.


There are two types of corns that occur on the tops or sides of the toes. A small plug of skin in the centre of a small patch of thick, dead skin is known as a hard corn. A whitish, rubbery soft corn has a much thinner surface and usually forms between the toes. Rubbing or pressure often causes corns.

WebMD Medical Reference

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