Saturday, August 21, 2010

Routine Toe Removal Has Health Benefits

A parody of routine infant circumcision and its supposed "benefits."
By Joseph Lewis © 2010
Read more from Lewis at Joseph4GI

"Toe Jam" on a baby

Toenails are a pain to keep clean. They accumulate dirt, and they take time to trim. If not properly washed, toe jam can develop between the toes and the foot will give off an unpleasant odor.

The spaces between the toes are the perfect place to harbor bacteria that cause infection. Athlete's foot is such a problem in North America today that there is an entire industry based on foot hygiene products.

Athlete's Foot

The fungus that can and does grow underneath the toenails takes so long to get rid of. Fungal treatments like Lamisil and Lotrimin make a killing of money off of people with fungal problems.

Furthermore, toenails can become ingrown, requiring the need for surgery. Compound the hygiene and fungus products with the need for surgery, and having toes becomes very expensive, very fast.

Toenail Fungus

When toenails become ingrown, they sometimes require medical intervention. I know quite a few guys that had to have part of their nail root killed because they had recurring ingrown toenails.

Ingrown Toenail

If your family has a history of diabetes, you may wish to consider removing your children's toes. If your child gets diabetes, s/he may develop a condition called "hammertoe," where poor blood circulation causes the toes to become necrotic, becoming a gangrene hazard, not only for the toes themselves, but for the rest of the foot. It is such a common incident, and there is a danger that the wound(s) may not heal correctly, causing the entire foot to be gangrenous. I know of a few cases where the wounds did not heal, and the gangrene kept spreading. The patients had to undergo surgery after surgery, until the gangrene had left them with a stump up to their thigh. Some patients simply died in recovery.


Caretakers for the elderly already have to deal with so much. They have to feed and wash old people, and sometimes, if the men are intact, they have to (gulp) pull back the foreskin and rinse! On top of that, they have to take care of their patients' feet. This means washing them, clipping their toenails (that never stop growing) and making sure there is no gunk between the toes or fungus under the nail beds. It would make elderly caretakers' jobs SO much easier if their patients simply didn't have any toes.

Babies' toes pose a specific health risk for a very common condition known as "hair tourniquet." A parent's hair wraps around the baby's toe, quickly cutting off circulation. If the condition becomes severe, the baby must be taken to the ER and have the hair removed immediately. Occasionally, the toe is lost. Clearly, parents may see that cutting off a child's toes is in the child's best interest. If parents can demand a doctor circumcise their son, then it only follows that they should be able to demand a doctor remove their child's toes.

Hair Tourniquet

And, because a parent believes it is for the best, a physician has the duty to oblige. Why, if it's done as baby, s/he won't remember it!

If they use enough anesthesia, the child will not even feel the pain.

Having your toes removed as an adult is simply no fun.

Especially if diabetes runs in the family, physicians should advise parents to cut off their babies' toes. After all, they may need to have them removed later in life anyway.

My girlfriend's cousin's boyfriend's aunt's baby had to have a toe removed because of a hair tourniquet. If I ever have a baby, I'm surely going to have his toes removed.

In short, having toes is a HEALTH HAZARD! Cutting off a child's toes has health benefits. The AAP should recommend that all doctors advise parents that they remove their child's toes in infancy. It is simply better to remove a baby's toes when s/he is too young to remember and won't know what s/he is missing later in life. Parents and doctors that choose not to remove a child's toes are denying him/her of potential health benefits.


Lewis' End Note: I've already received responses that this is simply a hilarious parody. But to be clear, the humor was not intended at all. It sounds humorous doesn't it? These are actual, serious arguments used by people who defend circumcision. Use them with anything else, and the absurdity is obvious.


  1. BRAVO! Great post. Every argument you wrote for toe removal is what i hear every time I mention an intact penis is normal.

  2. The only argument I can see coming out is "but we need our toes for balance" from those who do not believe in the benefits of the foreskin. Other than that, fantastic comparison. *applause*

  3. Reminds me of foot binding in China - did you know that they finally had to make it a law that footbinding was illegal to the point of death - ie. the parent and doctor/footbinder would be placed in front of a firing squad. Just goes to show how stubborn people are to hang on to their reasons for hurting children. I guess people NEED those reasons to make it all ok, no matter how silly those reasons actually are.

  4. If the AAP and CDC are going to promote the benifits of infant circumcision to prevent HIV/AIDS, then they should also advise the benifits of infant mastectomies and toe excisions.
    Why stop at the skin of the prepuce; Eye lids, sinus', digestive system, anus', respatory systems all have mucosa that the procircs claim allows HIV entry.
    We can get skin cancer anywhere we have epidurmis, not just the penile fore skin. Epidurmectomy anyone.

  5. @Jami Toes are good for balance, just like foreskin is good for sex. The analogy still holds true!

  6. great post! :) It made me do a double take at first.

  7. This is fantastic! Thank you for posting!

  8. While circumcision is a personal choice, it was a huge and difficult choice for our family. We caught a great deal of grief. We made our decision quietly and did not make a big deal out of it. We are Jewish and continue to catch some problems, but we still wouldn't go back and change a thing. We have always said they can do it when they reach Bar mitzvah age, and they could have, but they chose not to. Humanist Jews are very accepting. We, however, are conservative Jews.

    1. I find the idea of circumcision for religious reasons difficult to comprehend. God is meant to be perfect, so why didn't he just not make foreskins in the first place? Even if we don't know the reason for boys having foreskins, it doesn't mean there is no reason.

  9. You REALLY need a tweet button to share this. I think it's wonderfully written and would really help someone on the fence.

    And, that poor baby toe with the wrapped sad...


  10. Awesomeness. You know, I had to have part of my toenail removed when I was 14 because it was ingrown and I remember all of it! I certainly remember the Lidocaine injections around the base of my toe, those things HURT! Obviously if my parents had just had my toenails removed at birth (then I still get to keep my toes for balance, see how well that works?) that never would have happened.

  11. This will probably be deleted from the comments, but...
    1.Ingrown toenails are caused primarily by the tightness of footwear (shoes AND socks btw)
    2.Hair tourniquets are "very common"? So if "my girlfriend's cousin's boyfriend's aunt's baby" had one, then it MUST be very common? A scan of Google shows very few reports of it being common. Of the two sites I browsed that claim the frequency is high, their supporting research is early 2000's. There is newer research out that suggests these tourniquets may be caused more often from abuse than from natural causes. Honestly, I'm not informed on this topic, but if this is common I'd be surprised.
    3."The patients had to undergo surgery after surgery, until the gangrene had left them with a stump up to their thigh." Wow, where to begin? As a Prosthetic Practitioner myself, naturally a person tends to want to save all but the already dead part of their body. The surgeon complies and cuts off the toe. But the truth is that the whole foot and halfway up the leg probably had very poor circulation as well. A small time later, necrosis sets in again, gangrene follows, and further surgery is necessary. An assessment of the circulation quality in the appendage as a whole would reveal a minimum level of amputation that would assure remaining tissue had enough circulation to survive. In my experience, this usually occurs mid leg, below the knee. Yes, it can occur mid thigh, but you make it sound like the norm, which indeed it is not. A good evaluation leads to a well informed patient that will hopefully make the decisions which result in many fewer surgeries and much decreased chance of complication leading to death.

    Certainly entertaining, but at most you've painted just as cloudy a picture for a parent contemplating toe amputation as is presented to a parent contemplating circumcision. I'm not saying either is correct... in my opinion, that's mostly a matter of opinion. :)

  12. to the last Anon - I believe all the points you make are exactly what the author here is pointing out -- the pure and utter ridiculousness of amputating body organs for the slight (insignificant) chance that something may, at some point in life, go wrong. It's a perfect parody. Both amputations are equally as absurd.

  13. So funny that Anon thought you were serious.
    So sad that we even have to discuss this.
    Do not cut your babies! Seems like common sense to me.

  14. Great article, really funny!
    But in my opinion you should really have stopped to toe NAILS. Toes are obviously useful for balance, while toe nails are actually useless. Some sportsmen even have them removed!
    Doesn't that proove toe nails are nothing but an annoyance? Does anyone use his toe nails for whatever purpose?

    I honestly don't know what a pro infant circumcision could have answered to that!

    1. Toe nails are there to protect the nerves in the toes. If you lose A toe nail, you would know this.

    2. Toe nails protect the nerves in your toes.

  15. Great post...I love it... and find it to be true..

  16. O dear. Imagine the far-reaching effects of this article. Away with hair! Banish Eyelids! Earlobes! Lips! Tongues! and Anyways, who needs Thumbs anyways. Before you know it we'll be brains in vats full of brine. Except then we would probably not be able to reproduce. Oh... well, all in the name of cleanliness, aye?

  17. I just peed my pants laughing. I should remove my pants since it would be much cleaner than sitting in urine. Thanks. Thanks a lot! haha
    I liked that one.

  18. How about hair? What a pain that is to cut on a regular basis...and teeth! Those stinky, cavity-ridden things....who needs 'em? That's why blenders were invented...mush everything up into a fine paste...that's good eatin'! I say we completely redo our kids' DNA...remove all the bits Big Pharma can't 'heal' and insurance won't cover...this will leave us with a few scattered eyelashes and the occasional knuckle..

  19. LOL...sounds good to me! We can just be blobs riding around in those motor chairs at walmart....haha :-D

  20. My brother had testicular, lung, and brain cancer. Had my parents just removed those parts of his body, he might still be alive today.

  21. That's one of the things I say... We should start removing all organs and body parts that can cause problems...

    With some of the "logic" that I've heard, I *could* get breast cancer. Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, 10 years from now or not at all. Should I have my breasts removed now before I get breast cancer? Or just in case I get breast cancer? Ridiculous!

  22. i can think of more than a few people that could do without their tongues.


  24. they forgot to offer the looks like dad argument... I had a client who was hell bent of circ so baby would look like him- interestingly, he had lost a couple of fingers in a tool accident earlier in life.. I asked about finger removal for the same reason- point was made!

  25. True story:
    When I was born my toenail was not very hard(as all babies) and ever since I was very young I remember both of my big toes had an ingrown toenails... It took me many years of cutting them and caring for them before they finally were fixed... So when my kids were born I paid close attention to there toenails, and they all had the same ingrown big toenail as I did... My first son had it so bad that I went to a specialist to get some help, he recommended mineral oil, so for months I used that and it helped him over the years (without constant cutting and shaping like mine) so when my next 2 came, I used the mineral oil right away and they never had any issues at all...

    If I only new I could have just cut off their toes/toenails, I could have avoided all those months off applying the oil(joking:P)

  26. Bob Marley DIED from cancer that started in his TOE! It's true. If only his toes had been removed as a baby he would still be singing to us today.

  27. I hate to inform you anonymous, but ingrown toenails are not only the result of tight worn shoes and socks. Diabetes is a cause. I go barefoot 95 percent of the time. im a diabetic and i have problems with ingrown toenails. Its due to excess skin growing over the end of the nail and the fact that the toenails get so brittle they just crumble.

    Awesome write up, i love the comparison. Made me giggle as did Doug but great job. Its an awesome way to have someone look at something in a different way. Kind of like an eye opener, then again you are gonna have your nit pickers..oh well life goes on.... :)

  28. re: hair tourniquets - I have long hair, and my kids get these ALL THE TIME!!! Luckily I check their toes when putting on clean socks in the morning, inconvenient as it is ;-) . How does this happen so frequently?? Easy, I brush my hair, some of it gets on the floor or on clothing. When I wash all the family's clothing, the hair accumulates in corners such as footie pajamas and socks! Seriously, it's a couple times a week I unwrap a long hair from a kid's toe. And my husband even complains that he occasionally finds one wrapped around his penis!! (underwear in the laundry, bedsheets, towels) So I definitely believe it is very common!

  29. I give this two toes up! great job!

  30. I was actually thinking about writing about the "benefits" of toe removal myself, but you beat me to it. Great job! It's amazing how ridiculous the pro-mgm arguments become whenever they're applied to ANY other body part. It's sad how America and some other places think so little of foreskin, but fortunately, this article and other things like it seem to be changing people's minds. Keep up the good work. ^_^

  31. Another important reason for newborn toe removal is aesthetics. If a baby girl has her toe bones excised at birth, she won't need the procedure done as an adult. She will be all set to wear high heels and tight shoes, and be far more sexually attractive to men. After all, the Chinese did it for thousands of years, so it must be right.

  32. If I ever suggested removing all the skin between a baby's toes, removing toes, or even just the toe nails to have healthier easy to clean feet, let alone performed the surgery, I'd surely lose my license. I practice podiatric medicine. Circumcision is irresponsible and unethical medicine, and I believe no parent would go thru with it if the doctor actually gave them an accurate description of risks and what is lost.

  33. "Circumcision is irresponsible and unethical medicine, and I believe no parent would go thru with it if the doctor actually gave them an accurate description of risks and what is lost. "

    One comment here. I don't think knowledge is enough. Choosing circumcision is primarily an emotional decision, a defensive one. It hides behind fake medicine and fake facts, so it's proponents won't have to think about or feel what it really is: Sexual assault and theft.

    Thank you for your support too!

  34. I bookmarked this. I have a feeling my older sister is pro-circ. She's a nurse. I'm hoping her next baby isn't a boy, but if it is, this is a GREAT illustration of how absurd circumcision really is!!

  35. Shines a whole new light on things.... thanks.

  36. Great article..

    To anon
    ingrown toenails is NOT always caused by tight shoes and socks. We were brought up with only specially fitted shoes yet I still have ingrown toenails and panful bunions.
    They can be hereditary and nothing too do with footwear, as my surgeon told me.

    My grandmother, her mother, my mother, my sister, my cousins, my son all have/had painful ingrown toenails and many of us also have bunions. I have never even worn high heels as a kid either, always wide fitting as I have wide fett, specalist fitted shoes.

  37. GREAT article! My friend sent me a link to this article because she knows my husband and I decided not to circumcise our son when he's born.(I'm currently 20 weeks pregnant)

    I'm not afraid to spend an extra couple min.'s properly cleaning his penis, big deal people spend more time blow drying their hair.

    If my son wants to get it done when he's older then so be it but that's HIS decision to make, it's his penis not mine or my husbands!

    1. Congrats on your new baby boy soon to arrive! You may be interested in some more information on intact care here: There really, truly is nothing to 'clean' on an intact child like so many U.S. myths would have us believe. Just wipe outside - like a finger, and never, ever retract. Best wishes for you and your new son.



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