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What are the Different Types of Toe Separators?

By Josie Myers
Updated May 21, 2024
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Toe separators are intended to reduce friction and irritation between the toes. There are several conditions that can force the use of separators, all involving toes that are in an awkward or uncomfortable position. The devices carefully pull the toes into a position where they do not touch to increase a person's comfort level. They can be made of foam, gel, cotton, and moleskin, among other materials, each with an intended usage.

There are several reasons that people choose to use toe separators. Crooked or overlapping toes happen when one toe rests on top of another and can cause friction and pain. Pinched toes are toes that are smashed together and rub uncomfortably. In many cases, this rubbing can also cause corns.

Separators come a variety of materials and styles, and they usually come in sizes small, medium, large, or extra large to accommodate various sizes of feet. Some are meant to be used with shoes, and others without. Any shoes worn with them should be loose fitting.

Foam and gel separators work similarly and are basically a thin board placed between the toes. Foam separators absorb friction and pressure and are usually made of several thin layers. They can usually be trimmed and are washable. Gel separators are similar, but contain a squishy material that releases a moisturizer, such as mineral oil. Both are intended for use in shoes and are washable and reusable.

Some toe separators called splints are made specifically for use at night and are not intended to be worn with shoes. These look quite similar to the separators used during a pedicure, and they are meant to train the toes into a correct position and provide some relief overnight.

Adhesive moleskin and bandages may also be used to keep the toes apart. Users can simply cut the correct size strip and stick it between the toes. This cheaper alternative does not correct severely overlapping toes with the same effectiveness of products meant for that purpose, but it does help with friction

Toe trainers serve the same purpose as separators, in that they reduce friction and promote alignment. These trainers are small, cotton, covered foam splints that slide over the defective toes. They provide the strength of an overnight splint, but can be worn under shoes.

Toe socks perform a similar purpose as bandages and are basically fabric-based socks that slip over each toe separately. They can be found in full or small socks that cover only the balls of the feet and allow the ends of the toes to be free.

There are a few precautions that must be taken with toe separators. Those with diabetes are cautioned against using them, as well as those with open wounds. Any skin discoloration, numbness, pain or other irritations should be reported to a health professional and the product's use should be discontinued.

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Discussion Comments
By JackWhack — On Feb 16, 2013

One time, I let my toenails grow too long, and one of them rubbed a sore spot between my toes because of the way they were aligned. I had to wear toe separators for several days.

I used the gel kind, because they were the most comfortable. Luckily, they didn't touch the sore spot, and they kept my toes off of it so that it could heal.

By healthy4life — On Feb 15, 2013

@Planch – I use those toe separators every time I paint my toenails. They keep my toes from touching the polish on other toes and messing it up.

They are made of foam, and the ones I have are pink and purple. They were really cheap, and I got them in the manicure section of a pharmacy.

I can use them over and over until they tear. I've had mine for a couple of years now, and I use them once a week.

I keep them on for about thirty minutes after applying nail polish. I want to make sure that it has fully dried and won't smudge.

By anon121132 — On Oct 23, 2010

I tried a snoosy toe separator, a bit pricey but always pampering. --Vivian

By lightning88 — On Oct 02, 2010

@Charlie89 -- I've used Visco gel toe separators, but never Pedifix -- they seemed to work well for me though. However, I was using bunion toe separators, not ones for hammertoe.

Best of luck though.

By Charlie89 — On Oct 02, 2010

I have been considering trying to use some of those gel toe separators to try and fix my hammertoe. I have had a hammertoe ever since I went through puberty, and nothing seems to really fix it.

Has anybody used those Pedifix toe separators? I've heard good things about them, but I wanted to hear some first hand accounts before I actually bought some.

Has anybody used those for hammertoe, and if so, would you recommend them?

By Planch — On Oct 02, 2010

What about pedicure toe separators? I love those little foam toe separators, or foot petals that they give you when you get a pedicure. I know they don't really make a medical difference, but they do feel nice and relaxing.

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