The little toe triangle? Huh? The what?
A recent post on blisters resulted in an email from a reader asking what this was. So I decided to answer his question by posting the explanation out of Fixing Your Feet (4th edition).
We each have two. Little toes that is. The number of problems with these little appendages has impressed me. “What problems?” you ask. It’s all about that little triangle of skin where most problems occur.
If you look at your little toes, your toes may be well rounded and soft. Or they may have the often-typical triangle look where the skin on the bottom of the triangle is hard and callused. The skin on the bottom of the toe forms the point of the triangle. The problem is that on many of our little toes, this bottom point is hard and callused skin. The hard skin is prone to blisters forming underneath as pressure from the toebox creates friction. Often this hardened skin is partially under the skin of the next toe, another pressure area. The outside of the foot, the little toe area, is often more wet and damp than the inside of the shoes, leading to macerated skin. Once softened, this skin can easily blister underneath, or worse yet, the skin can separate, leading to major skin problems.
One of the last runners whose feet I patched at Primal Quest had struggled for the whole event with macerated skin on his feet. When he came into a transition area, the skin had stripped off the bottom point of this triangle-of both feet. I’m sure it was painful and very uncomfortable. Once patched, he continued on as best he could.
The little toe is so small that it is hard to patch well. The use of Micropore or Kinesio tape is a good choice. Even better, in my opinion, is reducing the hard callused skin. Injinji toe socks can also be helpful. Good shoes are vital too. Shoes with a good toebox that allows the toes room to wiggle are best. Once the skin has blistered, 2nd Skin is good to use as a patch. Cut it to fit the blister. Too much and it becomes bulky and rubs on the neighboring toe.
During a race or hike, be watchful of your little toes. This small but potentially troublesome triangle of skin deserves special care. While this common problem happens most often to our pinky toes, it can affect other toes too.