My Pinky Toe Is Red, Blistered & Painful! How Can I Stop This Happening?

My Pinky Toe Is Red, Blistered & Painful! How Can I Stop This Happening?

Oh that feeling when the outside of your little toe blisters

And you have to keep walking :(

Is there anything worse?

Little toe blister - Image credit Mom2marathon.com

Little toe blister - Image credit Mom2marathon.com

Little toe blisters are actually the most common blister location!

 
 

The cause of little toe blisters

You don't have to be a runner to suffer with these. They're also common in ladies wearing their high heels and pointy-toed dress shoes. The dominant cause is the toe curls and tucks in and under the 4th toe, making the joints more prominent. But that's not always the case.

 
A Curly little toe (adductovarus 5th) is commonly blistered

A Curly little toe (adductovarus 5th) is commonly blistered

 
 
A recovering Blistered 5th toe after a 12 hour race - the toe is twisted but relatively straight

A recovering Blistered 5th toe after a 12 hour race - the toe is twisted but relatively straight

 

Preventing blisters on your pinky toe

Of course, if your toe is bent and this is the cause of your recurring blistering, surgically straightening the toe is one solution. But before that, there are a number of things you should try.

1) Shoe-fit

This factor is paramount for blisters on the outside of the little toe. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The toe box of your shoe simply must accommodate your toes, in depth and width. You can’t expect to be pain-free or blister-free without this important aspect of shoe-fit being met.

  • Tie your laces firmly to prevent your foot slipping forward and jamming your toes into a narrower part of the toe box.

  • Shoes with a more flexible upper in the region of the little toe will help. However, this might not be appropriate for all activities and conditions.

  • Seams in the shoe’s upper, right where the little toe is, are common and will make the situation worse.

Unfortunately, even with all of these aspects of shoe-fit being met, blisters on the outside of the little toes are still possible. Why? Because we haven’t fixed the root of the problem – the curly toe. That can only truly be fixed by surgery. But there are two more things you can try - to address the pressure and friction that contribute to blister-causing shear. 

The importance of shoe-fit cannot be overstated

The importance of shoe-fit cannot be overstated

2) Gel toe sleeve

These devices are great for two reasons:

  • They cushion the prominent joints – thereby reducing peak pressure.

  • The gel material is excellent at absorbing shear. And remember, the more shear that occurs within gel material, the less shear that has to happen within the skin of your little toe.

You can grab these at most pharmacies. We’ve got some in our shop here too (links below).

Here’s why I like them so much (video below). And here’s a little-used technique that prevents the protector from bunching up between your toes AND stops it from slipping off.

3) ENGO Blister Prevention Patch

An ENGO Patch is the best way to reduce friction levels. Consider this if:

  • You don’t think your little toe is curly but you’re still getting blisters.

  • The gel toe cover takes up too much room in your shoe.

  • If maceration is an issue.

It can be tricky to get all the way down to the end of your toebox for this blister location. Rather than cut your shoe in half like I have for the below demonstration ;) you’ll need to take your laces right out to get good access down there.

Also, be aware that if you’re wearing shoes with mesh uppers, water can get in from the outside, render the adhesive ineffective and the patch may dislodge. Read more about the pros and cons here.

ENGO Patch placement on shoe upper for little toe protection

ENGO Patch placement on shoe upper for little toe protection

Here’s the ENGO 6-Pack. Use either the large or small ovals, depending on the size of the coverage you need.

 
 

4) Other options

Other preventive options include:

  • Taping - I'm not the biggest fan of taping. You can find out why here. But this is one location where a simple protective layer can help prevent abrasion and deroofing. I'd still opt for the gel toe protectors over taping though.

  • Lubricants - I'm also not a big fan of lubricants. You can find out why here. But if there was ever an area to use lubricants, it would be around the toes.


Conclusion

Little toe blisters often deroof and can become very nasty very quickly. One of these preventative options will see you free of these blisters. So get to it! They're not worth the pain. 

what number is your pinky toe blister? (Image credit: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com)

what number is your pinky toe blister? (Image credit: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com)


Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.