Toe Jam

Toe jam.  Just the words alone put a sour look on the faces of many.  We all have toe jam, or have had it, to some degree or another.

The question we want to help you answer is how can you get rid of toe jam.  Whether you are trying to go barefoot more often, wear more open-toed shoes, or simply trying to live a cleaner and healthier life, getting rid of toe jam should be a priority.

How to Get Rid of Toe Jam

We will talk a bit more later about what toe jam is and how it builds, but we know that our audience often wants us to get to the point: What can you do about toe jam? The good news is that there are several ways to prevent and remove it once you notice that you perhaps have a little more of the stuff than you would like.
Here are a few of the tried-and-true ideas:

Keep Your Feet Clean

Buy a good, old fashion foot and nail scrubber, and use it to get under and in between your toes when you bathe or shower.  Toe jam can be the result of a buildup of anything from sweat to sock lint, and cleaning it out regularly is important.  Sometimes, that requires a scrub, and a simple scrubber is a great thing to have on hand.  Use it in conjunction with a soak (we mention that next) for the full effect.  Wholesome Beauty makes a good one, which you can find here on Amazon.

Soak Your Feet Regularly

Soaking feet is a great way to clean them, and when used in conjunction with a scrubber, you will have the cleanest feet on the beach.  A good soak should be in warm water, slightly hot but keep in mind your foot skin is sensitive.  For best results, add just a bit of Epsom salt to it, mix, and enjoy the relaxing and cleansing soak.  The great thing about Epsom salt is it will help your feet in more ways than preventing toe jam.  Many believe it helps with things ranging from arthritis to psoriasis.

Walk in Salt Water

If you are fortunate enough to live near an ocean (we realize this advice is not realistic for most of our readers), use the opportunity to go for regular, barefoot walks in the salt water.  Besides being an excellent way to relax, a good ocean walk will help clean out your toes.  Salt water acts differently than fresh water, because it facilitates osmosis.  This movement of dirty or negative cells can have a cleaning effect on your feet and skin.  It almost has an effect of using a pumice stone, so is great if you have calloused feet, too.

Try Talcum Powder

Talcum powder is a great way to keep normally moist, sweaty areas dryer.  If you are prone to sweaty feet and toes, some talcum powder inside your socks may go a long way in helping the toe jam.  Talcum powder is made from several natural elements, and has a tendency to reduce moisture.  Just be sure to bathe regularly.  Having any kind of build-up on your feet without washing often could actually make it worse.  The last thing we want to do is make your toe jam even more severe.  Use talcom powder to keep your feet drier, but then be sure to bathe daily so it doesn’t build-up.  Our favorite is Taylor of Old Bond, which you can find here on Amazon.

Wear Sandals

Going open-toe and sockless, such as by wearing sandals or, our favorite, Tevas, can help you reduce the amount of toe jam experience.  The air will allow your toes to dry out, allowing for a better climate than you would find inside hot, stuffy shoes.  If your lifestyle is conducive to it, try to wear sandals or open toes shoes as much as you can.  Just be sure to buy something with some arch support, because cheap flip flops have a tendency to cause plantar fasciitis problems.  The last thing you want to do is trade some toe jam for a painful foot issue.

Keep Your Feet Dry

Always keep your feet dry whenever you can.  Dry them well after bathing, try not to ever put damp feet into a shoe.  After a long day at work with your feet sweating inside shoes, be sure to remove your shoes and allow your feet to breathe.  Letting your feet breathe is good for foot health in many ways.  Make this a ritual.  Feet were not meant to be confined 24/7.

Consider Shoe Trees

If you wear dress shoes or any leather type shoes or boots, consider using shoe trees after each day to allow the shoes to dry, breathe, and keep their form.  Shoe trees will allow leather soles and uppers to dry out and breathe, so the next time you put them on they will not be starting with a touch of moisture in them, and creating a bad cycle.  You gotta get cedar ones, like these from Woodlore on Amazon.

What Is Toe Jam?

Toe jam is a catch-all term for oily or greasy residue that tends to build-up on the feet.  It can particularly manifest in between the toes, which is why it has the name Toe Jam.  It is generally viewed as a bad thing, something that is unattractive and undesirable, which is why people work hard to get rid of it.

It can be caused by a number of things:

Many believe it is simply sock lint.  Socks give off lint on your feet, just as they do in your dryer.  When they do, the lint has to go somewhere, and an easy place for it to find shelter is in that protected space between your toes.  While sock lint seems harmless, anything that builds up and reduces the ability of skin to breathe and dry and cause infection.

Others believe toe jam is caused by dirt and sweat, which combines to create quite an unappealing combination that resides between your toes.  This could be right, and there is probably some element of sweat that is part of any toe jam.  This is why we recommend keeping your feet dry, and even using talcum power on occasion.

Toe jam can also be a fungus of sorts. A fungus obviously becomes more of a health issue, so it should not be discounted as nothing.  If your Toe Jam is more than just gross and a little annoying, and begins to itch, pay attention to it.  This could be a sign of an infection, and infections represent the line where something crosses from being an annoyance to dangerous.  If you think that the area is getting warm, red, and itchy, see a doctor.  It could be a sign of something else.

Whatever the case, make sure that your toe jam is truly benign and not something more serious.  If you tend to be someone who creates lots of toe jam, take steps to keep your feet clean, dry, and jam-free. It will be good for your overall foot health.

Unfortunately, there is not a simple, easy answer to the question of “what is to jam”. It could be quite benign, or it could be the start of a skin problem. Whatever the case, it is probably best to prevent and avoid it.

Does Toe Jam Itch?

toe jam causesIn some people, the toe jam could begin to itch. If it does, it might be a sign that the toe jam is becoming a dermatological issue — a fungus or a bacteria. There are some home over-the-counter remedies for foot fungus, such as Lotrimin spray (here on Amazon). If the itch doesn’t stop and the skin becomes increasingly tender, consider seeing a dermatologist or your family practice physician.

The last thing you want is for the problem to get worse, to the point where you have a serious skin issue. Prevention is usually the best cure.

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About the Author

Tasha Klettenberg

Tasha Klettenberg