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Podiatry/Painful bump on top of toe.


Hello and thank you for your help. I am a 28 year old male who currently works as an RN at our local hospital. Being a nurse, I am on my feet a lot during my shifts. Here in the past couple of weeks I will feel a slight irritation on the top of one of my toes when I get home. It almost feels like an ingrown hair but I don't see anything. There will be a small bump on top of my 3rd toe near the base. It is somewhat hard and painful. After a little while I will notice some swelling and pain about 2 inches behind it on top of my foot. This went away after about a week. Just tonight I was out with my family wearing some boots and the same thing happened on the opposite foot and on the same toe. After about an hour there is swelling and pain. I'm just curious if this could be the way my shoes could be rubbing my feet or if it sounds like something more serious. Any advice would be great. Thank you, Tim.

Hi Tim,

Thank you for submitting your question.  I'm sorry for the discomfort you are experiencing.

I suppose it is possible to get an ingrown hair on your toe, although it's more likely some sort of irritation caused by your shoes.  Does that toe curl or stick up a little more than the surrounding toes?  Does the crease in the top of your shoes (when you walk) touch that area?  

As your heel comes off the ground, there's normally a part of the shoe that folds onto itself when the shoe bends.  (Take off your shoe and watch what happens when you bend the heel toward the toes...see what I mean?)  This puts slight pressure on the foot in or near the area that you have described.  We normally don't notice, but when it happens repetitively (with walking, kneeling, crouching, stooping, or any motion that requires you to put weight on the ball of your foot), it can cause some irritation.  Do you notice it more with certain shoes than others?  Some shoes have more material in that general area, which could contribute to the discomfort.  Sometimes the tongue of the shoe in certain styles can cause slight irritation.

If you're concerned about the bump, I'd suggest that you see a podiatrist who can do a thorough examination.  It could be something else, potentially a mucoid cyst or ganglion cyst, for example.  If it gets larger or shows signs of infection, I would strongly recommend that you seek medical attention.  Without being able to see or palpate it, I can't give you an accurate assessment, and I encourage you to keep that in mind.

I hope this information helps.  Best of luck to you, and thank you for the work that you do.  Nurses don't get nearly as much credit as they deserve for all their hard work and for the many things they put up with.

Wishing you health, happiness, and peace,
Dr. Bodart  


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Dr. Amy Bodart


Questions relating to podiatry: medicine and surgery of the foot, ankle, and distal leg


Associate at Advanced Podiatry, 2919 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609


Graduated from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, OH 3-year forefoot and rearfoot residency training from Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, FL

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