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Skin Care and Diseases

Swollen toes



I am a 29 year old male in good health. The fourth toe on both feet is swollen. I noticed the syptoms first on the right foot, and a day later on the left foot. I cut all my toenails and applied athlete`s foot creme, but saw no improvement. When I first noticed it a week ago, the tips of the second and third toe were also very tender, but are not as tender now. Otherwise there is no pain.

Three weeks ago, my feet got very cold when I was mountain biking for 2 hours in 30 degree weather, but I didn`t notice any syptoms of frost bite at the time. Is it possible to have delayed swelling from frost bite? Another thought is that my feet may have outgrown my winter boots over the past year due to a lot of running, but I stopped wearing my boots and the problem hasn`t gotten any better. Any ideas?


There are many possibilities for the persistent swelling of toes.  Persistent swelling and tenderness warrants a doctor's visit.  Conditions such as cellulitis, or inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue could present like this.  It could be aggravated by physical trauma.  The inflammation may also lie within the joints. Some types of arthritic conditions present in this manner.  It's best to be seen by a physician.

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Response by:

Elma D Baron, MD Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University