Ah, pinky-toe pain.
It can be from something mundane like chafing, to the more exotic e.g. an accessory toenail.
Hard corns happen here, too.
But there's another, more hateful, explanation. One that'll force you to switch your Fendi's for flip-flops.
(Or how about toilet roll 'tween your toes or slippers 24/7? I've seen both).
I am, of course, referring to the infamous soft corn aka heloma molle.
And if you ID one early, you can save an expensive visit to the Podiatrist.
Your pinky toe pain is from footwear pressure. A level of force that would break your little toe if it was longer.
Think about it: four toes squeeze it from one side, your shoe presses in from the other. As the day goes on, your feet swell.
The turnstile clicks and gets tighter. A crush from both directions, like a stadium disaster in your shoes.
The squash remains even when your foot comes off the floor.
Your toes are plastic. No, I don't mean made of polymer; I mean they change shape when forced over time.
Bad footwear makes your toes under-ride, rotate or retract like a striking snake.
(Ask anyone with bunions. Or google pictures of Chinese bound feet).
You may not notice it barefoot; your shoes can force them into a stress position. So what does this mean?
It means shoe rub on steroids. You've got a huge contributor of soft corns between your toes.
How To Tell If It's a Soft Corn
Soft corns are callus gone rogue. They mold from the endless rub and squeeze of your footsteps.
A rough yellow skin layer grows inwards — instead of out.
They appear like a blister with a dark or yellow center. There's often a twin site of hard skin on the toe next door.
Soft corns can dig in from way back at your skin crease; right up near your toenail.
They're often crowned with white, soggy skin. Moisture builds in dark toe crevices covered with socks, and layered with shoes.
You then walk all day, and the sweat pool turns them spongy. Hence the name "soft" corn.
(Soft Corn) Pinky-Toe Pain
Under pressure like a mineral, they sit on the inside flesh of your pinky-toe.
As you walk, you'll feel a distinct burn between your digits. As the corn gets larger, deeper, this can and does spread to the one next to it.
Corns on your sole get a break every step. Not so a soft corn.
How bad can the pain be?
Exquisite. On par with a skin burn and enough to make you dread walking anywhere.
It can linger long after you've taken your shoes off and put your feet up.
How To Cure a Pinky Toe Soft Corn
I'm gonna level with you: soft corns aren't always easy to remove.
Sometimes your toe is so tight that it's realllly difficult to get at it. The other problem is they can be almost impossible to see.
But, fear not. There are solid ways for you to relieve the pain (even if you can't get rid of it all).
Ease The Squeeze
This is the most important step: without pressure relief, you won't get rid of your pinky toe pain.
I repeat — you have to take the rub and grind off your pinky toe.
The best way to do this is with wider footwear.
The next step: corn skin removal.
The rubber white stuff on top of the soft corn adds bulk. It stops it drying out and increases the agony
So pick and file it off.
A dab of good cream is recommended, but remember it has to contain Urea as an ingredient.
Gehwol Blue or Mint is the one I use.
Corn Plasters For a Painful Pinky Toe?
By corn plasters, I mean the ones with acid, aka corn remover pads.
(They will say something like "contains salicylic acid" or "medicated corn plasters").
Now they do work for some people with soft corns 'tween their toes.
But, a warning: the worst soft corns I see are thick with burnt white skin from corn plasters.
As always, my advice for corn remover pads is to use them for less time than you think you need. You also need to manually pull, rip or strip the dead skin off.
Other Painful Pinky-Toe Causes
Less Likely Culprits
Ok, so let's par down what it's probably not.
A broken pinky-toe? True, you can smash your little digit, but this is rare without you knowing all about it.
Table leg in the dark, anyone?
Seed corns can sprout here, but they're not common and easily removed. There's a small chance it's a wart, but you'll spot the tell-tale black dots a mile off.
Can you get an ingrown painful pinky toenail? They're almost unheard of, so no.
The Usual Suspects
Shoe Rub and Callus
Relentless rubbing alone causes a surprising amount of pinky-toe pain.
Chafing can swell and birth after burn which takes hours to settle (even after you've put your feet up).
I see dry skin callus here a lot, and here's the thing: take this as a warning that you're not far from a hard corn.
Hard corns on pinky toes can be near as agonizing as soft corns inside them.
They're formed when callus just can't take anymore — and goes internal.
Full-fledged hard corns are obvious. They resemble an oblong seed buried in the top of your little toe.
Early bird hard corns are tougher to tell. Their main symptom is immediate relief when you remove shoes.
A legit accessory toenail is an ever-split little nail that grows beside your normal one.
(Some Podiatrists call them Lister corns).
Accessory toenails pass down through your family tree. But, though you can blame genetics, this extra pinky-toenail gets thick from walking.
The hard little spike pains when it matures, irritating the skin and flesh it sits atop.
The Painful Pinky Challenge
99% of painful pinky toe cases will improve with more toe space. Between, over and under.
But, as I mentioned earlier, soft corns between your toes are one of the more challenging things to home cure.
If you have a deep, established corn - and the steps above don't cut it - you may need professional removal.
(With a very sharp blade!)