Purple toe: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Our feet can often be injured when practicing a sport such as running or if a heavy object falls on our toes. These injuries usually cause changes in the shape and color of the finger. In addition to an injury, many causes can cause purple, such as the use of inappropriate footwear. When discovering that a toe is purple or has a similar alteration, it is advisable to see your doctor immediately.

To prevent any of these discomforts from causing the presence of a purple toe, we invite you to read this article by FastlyHeal, where you will learn much more about purple toe: causes and treatment.

Causes of purple toe

The causes that can give rise to the appearance of the purple toe are multiple. Among them are:

Acute injuries

In this group, those are generated after direct trauma, either through a fall, twist, or penetrating puncture injury.

Stab wounds

Injuries caused by objects (such as nails, knives, tacks or needles) risk developing an infection. This is due to the area’s difficulty to be treated when the foot is inside the shoe—the proliferation of bacteria increases due to the humidity between the toes and the foot.

Specifically, a bacterium called pseudomonas frequently appears in injuries caused by a puncture wound produced through the sole of sports shoes.


A purple toe can appear after an ankle injury, as the coloration spreads to the toes due to gravity.

Tendon injuries

These types of injuries are generated when an Achilles tendon tear occurs.

It is common in children and adolescents who suffer from an alteration known as Sever’s disease, an injury to the growing bone where the Achilles mentioned above tendon is connected.


They are injuries to the ligaments responsible for connecting one bone to another. Symptoms of this condition can be mild or severe. Sometimes they can be mistaken for a fracture.

When this happens, swelling and purple discoloration of the foot and the toes are evident, depending on where the injury occurred.

Toe fractures

They can happen when the toes hit or fall on a heavy object. This causes purple spots to appear on the injured toes or all over the foot.

Plantar fasciitis

It is an inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, a broad and flat ligament located in the lower part of the foot: this goes from the front part of the heel to the base of the toes. Its function is to help maintain the arch of the foot. An injury at this level can cause pain and swelling, and discoloration of the toes.

A purple toe from diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that, in the long run, affects the nerves generating an alteration known as diabetic neuropathy, which generally causes:

  • Pain.
  • Tingling sensation.
  • Loss of success in the feet.

Keep in mind that it can be aggravated by the appearance of a blister or a stone in the shoe because not feeling them can cause discoloration of the toes, where the purple toe can be even darker.

Also, this disease generates circulatory disorders that consist of decreased blood flow to the feet. If there is an infectious process in any of them, it is much more difficult for the lesion to heal. Therefore, it can be aggravated in some cases and end in gangrene.


Gangrene is cell tissue death due to a lack of blood supply or a severe bacterial infection. This alteration affects the extremities, fingers, or toes.

In these cases, a purple coloration is seen, even much darker due to the death of cell tissue.

Complete information about a diabetic foot in Diabetic foot: causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Purple toe treatment

Treatment of toe injuries, especially purple toes, should be indicated by the specialist doctor, in this case, the orthopedic surgeon.

When you are in the presence of a disease such as diabetes mellitus, it is essential to have a multidisciplinary team, including the neurologist, internist, and traumatologist.

According to the present symptoms, the treatment to be followed will be indicated. This ranges from:

  • Repose.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Analgesics or anti-inflammatories: to relieve pain and inflammation present in the affected area of ​​the toes.
  • Antibiotics: should be used when the purple coloration of the toes is the product of an infectious process.
  • Surgery: this will depend on the functional limitation generated by the injury and its severity. This will avoid placing the patient’s life at risk.

Prevent the appearance of a purple toe

The feet and especially the fingers require particular care to prevent the appearance of lesions or changes in color, such as the purple toe. Any injury can limit people’s ambulation. For this reason, it is essential to take the following care:


  • Check your feet regularly to see if there are any injuries or discoloration.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on hot or humid surfaces such as sports centers or locker rooms.
  • Change your socks daily, especially if they are damp.
  • Please wear comfortable shoes. It is not recommended to wear very high shoes in the case of women.

Feet cleaning

  • Gently wash your feet daily with soap and warm water.
  • Afterward, dry them very well, especially between each of your fingers.
  • Use moisturizer to keep skin moist, do not apply cream between fingers.
  • Keep your nails short in a straight line.

Finally, if you have an injury and your toes are purple, do not hesitate to go to your trusted doctor, who, after a medical review, will determine the type of injury you present. Likewise, once the cause has been determined, the treatment you require will begin according to your present discomfort.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Purple toe: causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints, and Muscles category.

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