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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

discoloration, itching, burning in ALL toes


When it happened in Feb/March. Looks the same now.

When it happened in Feb/March. Looks the same now.

Hello everyone,

I am a 25 year old graduate student finishing my doctorate in physical therapy this May. I live in Illinois, where it is most definitely cold in the winter. Last February/March, I noticed my toes starting to become discolored, itchy, and extremely painful, say if someone stepped on my foot. I gave it about a month and continued my running and exercising, changed my shoes, only to note an increase in symptoms and tingling on the bottom distal portion of my foot. I also noticed that if I took a hot shower, the swollen areas on my toes turned blue almost every time. I've always had cold hands and feet. After a month it became so annoying I went to the doc. They sent me for a full blood workup testing for RA, which runs in my family, lupus, gout, and other things. It all came back negative. So they put me on prednisone and sent me to a rheumatologist, who felt it was something systemic but wanted to watch it before giving a definite diagnosis. Two weeks on a mild dose of prednisone seemed to effect the toes positively, and as it got warmer, I would occasionally get mild irritation but NOTHING like it had been. Fast the past few months I was diagnosed with Chiari malformation in my CNS and am having surgery next week. I was thinking maybe this was all related...but it appears not. Last week I had a sore, scratchy throat with canker sores in my mouth and throat.
This lasted about 5-7 days, it's cold outside, my hands and feet are always cold, and lo and behold, my toes are swelling again. It appears it is only from the IP to the tip of the toe, and does not extend to the base of the toes, but it's definitely BOTH feet, and started in 1 foot and is now in both. It seems to be exacerbated by wearing shoes that are even the slightest bit constricting. My toes are warm, itchy, swollen, red, and annoying. I have tried cryotherapy to vasoconstrict and it seems to help the inflammatory process. Seems to work, but I am not sure if this is the correct or healthy conservative approach. I hesitate to take prednisone before my brain surgery next week. I have attached pictures. What do you think? Is it related to viral infection, cellulitis, or something goofy?

Thank you,


Hi Christina,
Based on your description it sounds like superficial frost bite where there is vasoconstriction of the arteries going into the toes as a result of exposure to the cold weather. Read my section on circulation. You should be examined by a podiatrist or vascular specialist to confirm this. One option besides the obvious of protecting your feet from cold exposure would be to consider taking Trental in an effort to improve the circulation to your toes. Unfortonately it may be too late this year as you need to start it three months before the onset of cold weather. Good luck with your upcoming surgery.
Marc Mitnick DPM

Comments for discoloration, itching, burning in ALL toes

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Aug 24, 2011
a bit different
by: Anonymous

Same problem w/cold and then the reaction. However, this year, one of my toenails is hanging on by a thread and there isn't a new one underneath. And a 2nd toenail is dislocating in the middle. Then, today, I noticed a dot of discoloration at the end of another toe. A podiatrist thought frostbite. I thought I had Raynaud's. But do you lose your toenails, too?

Dec 19, 2010
by: Anonymous

What we have is Chilblains. It's very embarrassing to be scraching or rubbing your toes in a warm room full of people. It happens when our toes and fingers get too cold in winter and the capillaries are damaged due to bad circulation. I'm still trying to find ways to improve my circulation. I work out but my toes are still cold afterward. I notice it gets worse if I wear tight fitting shoes since they restrict blood flow. I read that it's important to keep the feel warm and dry so I will buy some warmer socks and see if it helps.

Feb 04, 2010
Try something that works for me
by: RedBurningItchyToes

I have the same problem - red, itchy, burning, swollen & painful toes - only in winter when it's really cold & I took really hot shower. I tried a lot of stuff (anti-itch, calamine lotion, Gold Bond therapeutic foot cream) & they didn't work - until I tried petroleum jelly starting 3 days ago. The redness didn't go away - but they're not itchy, burning, or swollen anymore. I never knew what petroleum jelly is for, but for the 1st time it worked for me. Worth a try.

Jan 30, 2010
I have the same symptoms
by: Anonymous

I started having this symptoms this year all my toes itching, pain and swollen on 2 foots,I have tried all kind creams also see my doctor, still not helping. If you all trust me try to soak your foots in warm water mix with salt and make sure the water little hot and do that 2 to 3 times a day for couple weeks, but you will see a different for day one, keep doing that for 2 weeks your toes will heels very quick.

Jan 30, 2010
Christina with some news
by: Anonymous

Hi guys,

I started this post a while ago...I have somewhat of a solution for us that live in the north and midwest as it's about 10 degrees here...

Try wearing one pair of cotton socks with a pair of at least 60% wool socks over them...I went on a dose of prednisone (20 mg three times a day tapered down over 9 days) to get rid of the swelling and have been maintaining it by consistently making sure my feet are warm at all times.

What I have is a true Raynaud's phenomenon. You all may be experiencing something similar. Never happens when it's warm. Basically, the blood vessels in our toes are vasospastic, meaning they are not allowing circulation to the toes. The warmer you keep them...and that means make sure you touch your toes to tell, because my feet are cold sometimes and I can't sense it...I promise it helps!!! Only down side for us women is we have to buy different shoes, and make sure they do not constrict your toes, or else we are asking for a repeat of the swollen sausages!!!

Talk to your doc about prednisone if they are totally swollen right now ( I don't like it, but it helped)...the other option is a calcium channel blocker to help increase circulation. I am speaking to my case and my pictures here that I posted a while ago. Be sure you talk with your doctor!!


Jan 30, 2010
by: Anonymous

I found this post while looking for something similar to what I am experiencing.

I am a dance studio owner, very active on my feet and also work in sales. I experience the swollen, itching, red and painful toes as well, seemingly only in the winter time. I sleep with a heat pad on my feet at times, I am always cold.

Currently it is about 10 degrees here and my feet are at their worst. I had imagined that mild frostbite could be what I was experiencing.

Jan 18, 2010
this chinese menthol oil, it's help.
by: Anonymous

I have been dealing with the itching, burning, red and swollen with this symptoms about 3 weeks already, and I also can't sleep at night because all my ten toes are itched and swollen. I have searching online for any medication to cure, but do not have any luck, I have tried many different thing to help my toes stop with this sympton, I also using the Cortizone, Tinactine cream they supposed to help with itching redness and swelling, but did not help me at all. I have discovering something and it does help me a lot,
I been have this chinese menthol oil (PO SUM MEDICATED OIL)at home and I using this oil 2 to 3 times a day to massage my toes and before I go to bed I take one allergy pill and go to sleep. I believed this help me alot, now, its been 3 days my toes stop itch and the swelling is going down, today I have not use either menthol oil or allergy pill and my toes not itch, red or swell. and I can wearing my shoes go the mall (I don't know this sympton gonna come back or not, but for now it's helping me). I hope this can help you all, good luck.

Jan 16, 2010
I have that!
by: Erik

I have this condition also. Raynaud's or frostbite? My doctors suggested calcium channel blockers but I am skeptical. Every year I get these symptoms when it's cold or stress. I can barely wear shoes especially cotton socks. This crap sucks!!!!

Jan 07, 2010
Christina's feet
by: Anonymous

Hi everyone...well, over the past year, I've noticed that this never happens when it is warm out. I even tried changing birth controls a few months ago, to no avail. As soon as it gets cold, it comes back. This is my 3rd year with it now. So, where did it come from? Since I have a Chiari malformation, it may be an autonomic response. However, I saw a podiatrist and had Doppler's done on my legs. What he thinks is that it is a Raynaud's only kind of reversed. Our toe blood vessels are dilated and irritated. I have a ketoprofin foot cream that does help some; however, I wish there was a better solution for this. How are everyone else's feet these days?


Jan 07, 2010
Hello every one
by: Annie

I am glad, I found this web site.
I have a same problem, but only happen at night.
I saw Christina's foot picture posted on the web and it's just look exactly like my tip toes, when they're itching, burn and swollen. My foot only hapen happen in this couple week, my toes itchy, burn, red also swollen too, but only happen at night around 11pm to 3am and they are stop itch, during day time my toes are ok, not itch or red.
This is very whirl for me, and I don't know what's wrong either.

Dec 10, 2009
by: Anonymous

oh my gosh...I am so glad I found your posting. I have been dealing with this exact problem for years now and have had no luck with any doctors or any medications. This is so painful, way more painful than it looks, and it gets very frustrating to keep dealing with this itching and burning. Have you had any luck with finding any answers??? Please let me know.

Jan 28, 2009
discoloration, itching, burning in ALL toes
by: Anonymous

I have the same thing nearly every year when it
gets cold. I "make it go away" by doing this.....

- I take a hot shower at night and wash and RINSE
the soap off of my feet very well.

- I massage DMSO on the irritated toes and leave it on over night. Read up on DMSO. It has not killed me or hurt me contrary to what some will say and I have been using it for years.MAKE SURE that there is no soap on your feet or other toxic stuff. DMSO is a trans dermal and could carry the toxic stuff into your blood stream.

- In a day or so the swelling, itching, and redness
are gone. I don't know how it kills the fungus, but it does.

Happy Camper

Jan 26, 2009
by: David

I'm glad I found your post because I have been dealing with the same symptoms, but I believed it was Athletes Foot until today. Did you discover what it is you have? I was reading a little online and found "Chilblains (perniosis)", I believe this is what we have. Here is the info i was reading,


Also... you might want to up on something called "Raynaud's phenomenon".

I hope any of this helps you.

Jan 24, 2009
I have the same symptoms
by: Anonymous

I started having pain and itching in my little tow on my left foot, it started a week ago. It was very very cold out for two days last weekend. I suspected frost bite, but now the swelling and redness is spreading into the tow next to it. It looks exactly like this picture taht was posted. Could it be a circulatory problem or will inflamation from frostbite spread to previously uneffected areas even if they have not been reexposed? Also shoes do seem to really agrevate the condition.

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Hunterville, NC
….after reviewing your amazing site (great for the avg. jill). So thank you very much!!!


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This was an extremely helpful site. I have an appointment on the 18th and your info. Was right on target…..


A well organized site containing much information written in a manner that the average reader can comprehend.


Ontario, Canada
I found your website and articles most interesting.


Thank you for a quick response. I think your site is the best information site on foot pain and I have viewed many.


(location unknown)
I came to your website, via www.foot-pain explained .com which I think is also your website? I thought explanations for different types of problems were well addressed and thoughtfully stated for the patient in mind.


New York
You have an amazing and extremely informative site. I enjoyed looking through all of the data and stats.


Memphis, TN
Thanks again so much for the information in the article. Very interesting.


Great article. I have had plantar fasciitis since I was in high school……..

J. Simmons

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Dear Dr. Mitnick, The orthotics arrived four days ago and I slipped them into my shoes immediately. I was skeptical as to the usefulness of the item, they really didn't look very exotic. I have to say though, after using them for just four days, I have experienced grand relief from my foot pain. Even the very first day, I was able to do a lot of work while on my feet with at least a 75% reduction of pain. It has only gotten better every day, and I go nowhere without my shoes with the orthotics. I had been experiencing extreme heel and sole pain for about six months and had to take extended breaks off my feet many times a day as well as regular doses of Ibuprofen. Since getting the orthotics, my life has returned to normal and I feel good again. Just wanted to say thanks for the recommendation for a very effective item, I had no idea what a change this item could affect.

Yours truly,

J.C. Forbes

Thanks for the Response, you hit it on the head.


Redondo Beach, CA
Thank you for your time and expertise in answering my question…..


(location unknown)
First, thanks for putting together this website. Its the most informative site I have found dealing with foot problems. Last June I started having pain and swelling at …….


(location unknown)
First of all, thank you for having all this useful information available in one place. I've been through most of your website and based on my research, pain and evaluations I think I've narrowed things down quite a bit.

Pete M.

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Thank you for the best site I have found when researching foot pain.

Glenda B.

Madison, Alabama
Thanks for replying so quickly. I was a bit concerned. I think your website is great, and chock full of info.....


Denison, TX
Dr. Marc, Thank you so much for your reply which seemed to be right on. I have researched many sites but you put me on the right path to the possible answer. My foot pain may not rule the rest of my life after all! I believe I'll make a sign that reads, "THE END IS NEAR!" Thanks Very Much,


West lafayette, IN
Dear doubt you get positive comments re your site...May I please be added to the list of your admirers. In all of my years of web surfing I would say your site is right there with the very best. Thank you for taking the time to write the terrific info you provide and for putting things into laymen terms for us mere mortals. I pray you have much on going success and thank you again for a deed well done. As for me I did not find much help for my symptoms and will continue on my quest. Were you anywhere in the South I would make and appointment...Thanks again dear sir...m.e.

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Tampa, Florida 33624
Hi. This is a great site! I'm a healthy middle aged woman who is in good health, but.....


Just a wee word of thanks for your wonderful website...It is a terrific service...Thank you for providing your knowledge and help...With highest regards, m ebeling

Michael D. Ebeling

Tampa, Florida 33624

Thanks for a most interesting website, which has helped a lot.



Dear Dr.Mitnick

I usually do my research on the Mayo clinic website. I think your website is the most informative site I have found when researching foot pain.

I thank you for putting together this incredible website.


Dragica W.


....I have been told that it is not hard enough to be cut off. Please help, I am not sure what to do now! THANKS FOR A WONDERFUL AND VERY HELPFUL SITE!


South Africa

You have an unusually clear, informative and well-written website for laypersons. Thank you for that.

Matthew W.

Mansfield Ctr, CT

First, I'd like to thank you for all the information that you provide on your website and the opportunity to write to you.


Placentia, California

First, I want to let you know that you have the best web site I've found related to foot issues. (The only thing I had difficulty finding was the "ask a question" page.)


Unknown location

I received the orthotics Monday afternoon and began wearing them Tuesday. After two days I would say that I have noticed a huge improvement in the discomfort I have been experiencing. My foot feels better than it has in months.

Ric J.

Unknown location

I greatly admire someone like you who would donate and dedicate so much time and effort to helping strangers with no compensation. Truly, it is uncommonly kind. And your site is so intelligently arranged.

Ron R.

Pacific Grove, CA

I used to work for a podiatrist (front desk) back during summers in college years ago, so I know the benefits of good care. Again, I want to thank you for an EXCELLENT website. It was so great to get to your site (top of google search) and actually find all the answers I needed EASILY and QUICKLY! Clearly you put a ton of work into it and I really appreciate it.

All the best,


Alameda, California

By the way, millions of websites could use yours as a guideline on how to organize information and make the site user-friendly. Kudos to you!


Thank you for your very interesting and informative site!


Hi. I come to your site often looking for information. It is really informative and I appreciate it very much. I have RA and have been having considerable amount of foot pain...... Dee RN

Thanks very much for the wonderful informative site.


New Zealand

Thank You for my answer! I have been schedule for a bone density scan, allingment, and I am in the process of getting orthotics made, and checking out the natural remedies. Thank again! What a great web site!



Yes I want both pair of orthotics. You don't have an option of ordering 2 at one time so I had to place the order twice. Thanks. My husband likes these and wants to put them in all of his shoes. (referring to Superstep orthotics)

Cindy H.

I searched the internet everywhere for a clear description and illustration of my symptoms/problem. was where I ended my search with answers. If I lived in Jersey (left 30 years ago) and didn't live in Florida I would definetly make an appointment with Dr. Mitnick.

Thanks, Kathy

1st of all THANKS A LOT for your great site......


Thank you so much for your response. I will let you know how I am doing if you would like. Your website is awesome!


South Carolina
Hello! I want to thank you for such an informative website! I found you based on my ankle pain search and am happy to realize that there may be a relatively simple cause and solution....


unknown location

...Thanks for your fantastic service.


Arlington, VA

Thank you so very much, that would be much appreciated. I love those insoles, by the way. (referring to Superstep orthotics)

Kelly W.

San Clemente, CA

Dr Marc is fantastic...He seems to know exactly what you are feeling with the problems you are having. I wish he was in my home town so I could go to him with my problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Great insights! Thanks Doc, you're the best.


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I have been experiencing foot pain of various sorts and am working to figure out what it is. I found this site and can only say BRAVO!! What an excellent site! The time it must have taken to put all this together must've been a daunting task! I am sure it has helped so many people. Thank you so very much for doing this.


location unknown

Dr. Mitnick, Thank you so much for your reply. I did let my physician know and they took an x-ray - all is well! Also, thank you for providing this wonderful site, it is very helpful with lots of useful information! I appreciate your gift of time! God bless.


Dr. Mitnick, Thank you, you were 100% correct. The pain finally brought me to the ER. I spent 8 days in the hospital. The Doppler you spoke of was able to show that there was no pulse in that foot. This was an arterial clot that split and traveled throughout my leg. My leg was almost amputated. I am in rough shape but have all my parts intact!! You certainly know what you are talking about. Thank you for taking the time to answer. Yours Truly!


Staying at home after hallux surgery I spend quite a lot of time seaching info useful for avoiding problems which might come back. Today I found your site and I am .... delighted it happened. It's one of the best site I found last days.



Thanks for taking time to read and answer so many questions. It is truly a public service!


Seattle, WA

I just wanted to say that I am very greatful for this website!!


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Also, and importantly, just want to praise this web site. Thorough and thoughtfully presented, it certainly must be of considerable assistance to anyone with a foot problem. Terrific -- and very interesting.I trust the address comes up easily for those seeking information.


New Jersey

Thanks so much for answering my question. You've been more help to me than my own Dr. has been lately. Thanks again....I hope to be able to walk without pain someday.


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Wow, that is exactly the information needed!!! thank you thank you thank you!!! I appreciate this help so very much from Marc Mitnick DPM. Excellent information and help to improve One's life.


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Thanks so much for this website Dr. Marc! It is so nice that you have this ask the doctor feature..I'm sure I'ts been helpful for alot of people. I will try what you suggested and see if it helps...thanks again!


Evansville, IA

Dear Marc

I just want to say thank you for the quick response and the good info. I find it amazing and a super nice thing that you do here by answering medical questions at no charge.

Russ W.

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Your website is full of a lot of helpful information, and I am very impressed with the time in which you responded to my post. Thank you again for your time and consideration in your response.


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Thank you very much for the information, I will consider it. Excellent web site.


San Diego, CA

Dr. Mitnick, Just want to say thank you so very much for your quick response and very informative reply! After reading what you had to say, I called the doctor's office and was able to get in and see him the same day as my injury. Toe was x-rayed and luckily, it is not broken or fractured. Very badly bruised and will probably lose the toe nail. And although my toe and toe nail are still very black and blue and very sore, they ARE both starting to feel a little better. So again, thank you! I am so very happy that I came across your website. The service you provide is outstanding and immeasurable!


Albany, NY

Thank you so much for all of your advice. In searching the web for people dealing with this same issue i can tell you that you are a Knight In shining Armor! If I lived in Jersey I would gladly be your Spokesperson. Hopefully next time you hear from me it will be good news. God Bless,

Jill S.

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Whichita, KS

thanks again, this site is very helpful.


Boston, MA

Like others have stated...This site is amazing and I am so thankful that it was created.

....Keep up what your doing. Your a life saver.



Thanks again for the information provided on your site. It's easy for non-medical folk to understand your writing, and helps provide better communication between patient and doctor.



Wonderful advice

by: Anonymous

This is the best site for foot problem info.

Thank you for this information. This description fits my pain and inflammation behind my 2nd toe perfectly.

by: Max

location unknown
Again, I really appreciate that you responded to my inquiry, and that your mention of Parkinson's helped me to find my way to a diagnosis of this difficult to diagnose disease. Most patients see on average 16 doctors before they are diagnosed. I hope that you can help other people that ask for your expertise in the future.

Barb D.

I just wanted to say that I am very greatful for this website!! I have had a fusion in my rt foot and am finally getting a little bit better......


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Again, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to answer my question....your an angel!


Thank you for your response. You have provided some great insight (to my question)....


location unknown
Thank-you so very much for responding so quickly and in such detail to my question!! I will give my surgeon a call today!! This website is terrific!!!! Thank-you again!


North Carolina
Many Thanks Dr Marc!
Thank you for your response. It sounds like a good plan to me. He did not cut the wart out first ...


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Thanks again doc for having this website and we STILL need qualified Podiatrists in beautiful sunny Tampa Bay (Bradenton) Florida.

Bessie Mae

Dear Dr. Mitnick, Thank you so very much for taking your time to answer my question. You have greatly relieved my anxiety related to the continual tingly I feel in my feet. I will share your response with my podiatrist next week. God bless you for having this question and answer page on your website! Most gratefully,

Lynne T.

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Your webpage is excellent, I commend you on sharing your knowledge to the public.


New Jersey

Thank you. you were more detailed than what others have told me they finally called from the last xrays and my son is now in a cast for 2 weeks he did have a fracture that was not noticeable.

a mom

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I have read your website and I have to admit that I am amazed at all the information that is on here. I have learned more than the three years I have been going to several doctors that I have seen!!


Lenoir, NC

Thank you so much Doc for a quick and thorough response!


Bellevue, WA

I cannot thank you enough for your response, opinion, and suggestions! I want you to know how much it means to me, and I'm sure everyone else who has ever asked you a question! I feel like you're a lifesaver and have empowered me to take a stronger role and stand up for myself and my feet!


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