Warning: if you have a hatred of foot or gross medical conditions, don’t read.
About six months ago, my toe started hurting. Regular throbbing pains that were just enough to keep me checking its status. Every time I peeled off my shoe, the right-middle toe (AKA the piggy that had roast beef) looked just as normal as always, and so I kept on living my life. Just slightly toe interrupted.
But then the nail started getting grosser. It hurt less and itched more. The clear nail started turning purple, then brown, then yellow, then white. It bubbled and became thick and uneven, as though it’d been poured on by a non-dominant hand. It was fairly disgusting. Then it peeled off altogether … before growing back into the same barf-inducing version of its former self.
But so long as it didn’t rub directly on a shoe, it was pretty much indifferent to my lifestyle. And seeing as how it wasn’t bothering me, I let it be. Summer was almost over; now that I’ve worn socks for three solid months, it hasn’t been much of an issue. Sure I still know it’s there and that I will eventually have to wear sandals again (despite these record-low temps), but for now, the toenail and I have decided to coexist.
The Other Other Side Effect
This irregular toenail, however, wasn’t a stand-alone condition. A few weeks ago, it developed into something even weirder: what I self-diagnosed as chilblains. Basically, it happens when it gets cold, and because of bad circulation, your toe(s) itch until you want to die. Here’s my best guess: because my nail is jagged and overflowed onto the skin’s portion of the toe, the blood slowed down. This then caused the tip of the toe to swell, turn red, and burn hotter than the afternoon sun.
The weird part, is another infected area occurred on the left biggen. Not on the nail, though, just the edge of the skin – right where my bunion would be if toes had bunions. Symptoms always occurred in tandem – hurting, arriving, and leaving all as if they’d carpooled. That toenail, however, remains normal.
Though this could be skewed as I’m deciding my own hypochondriac levels: I’ve never been one to think I had a slew of incurable diseases. Sure I’m a wimp toward pain and the first time Cheetoh scratched me I thought my skin was burning off, but I’ve since become immune to claws. I sleep through colds and fevers, without so much as a doctor’s opinion. But when something does happen, I’m Googling my rear off looking for a way to cure it with water and oatmeal.
And in this case, I succeeded. After a can of athlete’s foot spray (which cools and helps with itching), and countless daydreams of slicing off my toe with one of Manny’s many knives, I looked up natural cures. A pot of hot water, baking soda, oatmeal, and 45 minutes later, I gained some sweet relief. That was four weeks ago, and they have yet to bother me since. (Knock on wood times infinity.)
The original toenail issue is likely a fungus. Since I walk around barefoot 95% of the summer (pre chickens; this coming summer will be interesting), I could have picked it up in any section the yard. Sure it’s weird that is hasn’t spread and that it’s on a middle toe, but no weirder than the idea of fungus itself.
Treatments, and Whether or Not They Work
While the toenail isn’t exactly eating away at my self-esteem, I have tried a few times to get rid of it. So far, antibacterial soaps, vapor rub, and a vinegar/mouthwash soak have come up defeated. Though, to be fair, I didn’t stick with the whole soaking treatment very long; it smells even worse than you’d think.
Maybe I’ll consider going to the doctor – because as Corkhead says, “If your toenails are falling off, you need to go to the doctor.” Maybe it’ll clear up on its own, or maybe this barf toe is the new me. Only sandals, summer and summer yard work will tell.