Toe Jam

Toe Jam‘ is not a medical term and is a lay term for the ‘yucky stuff’ between the toes. This consists of an accumulation of things like lint from socks (especially if new), dead skin cells, dirt, sweat and other debris. It can have the consistency of soft cheese and vary in colour from a white to a greyish-brown. The tight spaces between toes, especially if shoes are worn all day facilitates this accumulation of these products. A foot odour (bromhidrosis) may develop from bacterial breakdown of the skin cells. It is the Brevibacterium linens bacteria that creates the ‘cheese-like’ odour (this bacteria is used in some cheese manufacturing processes).

‘Toe jam’ is going to be more common in those who live in damp and warm environments, who sweat more (eg athletes), wearing closed-in footwear, those with poor foot hygiene (eg don’t inspect feet, don’t wash feet regularly, don’t dry between the toes), occupational risk (eg hot work environments; rubber boots).

Differential diagnosis:
Heloma molle (soft corn; painful); interdigital fissure; interdigital maceration; interdigital erythrasma, psoriasis alba, tinea pedis, scabies, erosio interdigitalis blastomycetica.

Treatment of ‘Toe Jam’:
Good foot hygiene with regular bathing and cleaning between the toes and drying between the toes will prevent the accumulation of the products that lead to ‘toe jam’.
Any maceration can be treated using methylated spirits (or surgical spirits).
Clean absorbent socks should be worn daily and changed after exercise to help absorb sweat.
Toe spacers can be used in the short term to help dry out the area.
Where possible use footwear that allows sweat to evaporate or wick moisture away from the foot.
Those with hyperhidrosis will need to undertake additional measures, such as using absorbent insoles and socks.
Any tinea will need to be treated with anti-fungal agents.

Self Care Difficulties:
Advice will need to be given to carers and/or family members if there are mobility issues and difficulties in carrying out self-care and practising good foot hygiene.
There are foot cleaning aids and brushes that can be used to facilitate this.

‘Toe Jam’ Trivia:
In the second verse of Come Together that John Lennon wrote for the Beatles:
He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football“:

“Toe Jam” is also a “jam” made of tangerine, orange and elderberry:

toe jam orange elderberry and tangerine

Page last updated: @ 11:48 am

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