What Are Some Causes of a Purple Toe?

Purple Toe Syndrome is a medical condition characterized by the blockage of the blood vessels in the foot, which hinders the flow of blood to the tissues, according to Foot-Pain-Explored.com. The blockage is usually caused by the build-up of cholesterol or by a lump of plaque becoming lodged in the blood vessels of the foot.

Plaque is a waxy substance consisting of things such as fatty acids, cholesterol and calcium, which attaches to the lining of the artery walls over time, notes Foot-Pain-Explored.com. With Purple toe syndrome, the plaque typically breaks off from the blood vessels located in the groin and abdomen region, and some travel along the bloodstream. They can then get stuck in the small vessels around the foot area. This condition limits the natural flow of oxygen and glucose to that region, resulting is destruction and imminent death of the surrounding cells. The toes turn blue or purple in a process known as cyanosis.

Purple toe syndrome develops suddenly and rapidly and may affect many toes on a foot, explains Foot-Pain-Explored.com. The typical symptoms include pain in the foot and up along the leg, a distinct bluish-purple skin color on the toes, and a palpable foot pulse.

There are several means of treatment for the condition, including stenting, which involves insertion of a mesh-like tube to open and aid in blood flow, states Foot-Pain-Explored.com. The second option is bypass surgery, in which a blood vessel is taken from another part of the body and placed strategically to divert the flow of blood around the blocked area.