OW! times four – toes, that is

I’ve just got back from a visit to the podiatrist.  I developed an ingrown toenail that, in turn, developed a very nasty deep infection.  The doctor reckoned the nail had to go to save the toe, and clean out the infection.  While he was doing that, he also took off three nails that had been infected with a fungus of some kind decades ago in Africa, and which had never healed up, no matter what treatment I tried.  He reckoned that was the only cure for something like that.

I’m now sitting painfully at my desk, foot throbbing like mad, with three red and one blue bandages festooning various and sundry toes.  The operation, performed under what was alleged to be a local anesthetic, nevertheless hurt like billy-oh, and my big toe in particular is throbbing fit to beat the band.  Painkillers ho!



  1. Judy, there is a technique that works (well, it worked for me), but it is a little bit painful, and requires flexibility on the person, unless you can get someone else to do it for you. I suspect that would be more painful, since the pain is part of the technique.

    I used a dremel with a drill bit. Essentially, you have to swisscheese the surface of the nail, in a grid pattern. None of the anti-fungals will penetrate the nail, so this has to be done to allow it to access the nailbed. The only other method is taking a systemic anti-fungal, which have a history of serious side-effects.

    Once you have exposed the bed, you apply the anti-fungal several times a day, until the drilled nail surface grows out. It's been twenty years since I did that toe. Unfortunately, I have since gotten another infection, so it's time to repeat it. The trick is to drill only through the nail, and stop when the drill bit hits the bed. THAT you will notice! I'm thinking that I'll make a travel limiter to control the depth of the bore. Need to measure the thickness of the nail, which varies from toe to toe.

    The point of drilling is to preserve the nail, as the toe is much happier with it in place, as Peter has discovered. I've heard that sometimes the nail never regrows after removal, which is not good.

  2. When I was a wee lad, I saw my dad (a podiatrist) permanently remove all ten of a guy's toenails. They were growing ingrown, and so they were to be removed along with the cells that grew them.

    Since that day, I never wanted anything to do with medicine as a profession.

  3. Peter:

    I am close to someone that used Black Walnut powder with a carrier of Tea Tree oil to treat a toe that had been infected with fungus for over a year. No doc, and there were a number of them, could do a thing for it. She treated her toe and in two weeks the problem was gone. I keep Black Walnut powder and tea tree oil at all times. The powder and be ordered off the internet and tea tree oil can be had there as well as WalMart. Black Walnut powder is made from black walnut hulls. Be award that black walnut will stain your fingers and nothing I knw of will take it off until the skin cells grow out. Use surgical gloves when using it.

  4. Ouch. I just lost the nail of my left big toe (stubbed it hard a month or two ago). It doesn't hurt, but it feels a bit strange and surely is ugly. I'm hoping it grows back better than it was – I had the right half of the nail removed when I was a teen, and the left and right halves were a bit different, both in appearance and in durability.

  5. Been there, done that (three times, once on both legs), got the t-shirt. Relax, in three days you'll almost go back to normal.

  6. I started getting ingrown toenails in my mid-30's, on my big toes. Also started getting stabbing pains there that I joked were invisible dwarves stabbing me with tiny short swords, based on a Visayan (Philippines) superstition about invisible dwarves that lived outside the doorways of peoples' houses (to which believers muttered apologies as they went through exterior doors in case they kicked one, lest the dwarves wreak revenge). Finally, I noticed a certain amount of numbness on the tips of some toes. It turned out I had developed Type 2 diabetes. 🙁 20 years later, it feel like I'm wearing socks even when I'm not except for my feet getting cold. The diabetes is under good control now, but there are a couple of other things going on that apparently accelerated nerve damage. I assume you've had A1C checked, but I was ignorant then, and working a full-time night job and going to school full-time in the day. My eyeglass prescription was way out of date, so blurry vision was fairly normal, and fatigue/confusion — par for the course, I thought.

  7. I had part of a big toenail removed a long time ago for an ingrown toenail and I still remember that the needle for the local anesthetic hurt more than the cutting of the toenail by a significant margin. Something about getting the needle close to the nerve that runs down the center of the bone or something. It hurt enough that I wondered out loud about whether it'd be worse to have the local or just endure it without. The (Army) PA said that he wasn't sure that it didn't make much difference. So my deepest sympathies as I've felt your pain.

  8. I hope your healing goes well.

    A bit late, but a Taiwanese cure per my wife for foot fungus is soaking your feet in vinegar.

    I tried a pill and everything had a metallic taste. That was scary…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *