Sunday, July 15, 2012

The New Adventures of Hallux, the Toe of Doom.

This post contains 
graphic photos of my toe. 
If you have a weak stomach, 
consider yourself warned.

In June 2011, whilst making a bunk bed, I partially detached the big toenail on my right foot. In mid August, it came off completely and I came face-to-face with this new troll toe:

In January 2012, it looked like this:

And on the one year anniversary it looked like this:

For the benefit of all new members of the Wrath of Mom's Traumatically Injured Toenail Support Group I will recap my experience and offer advice:

• Go to a doctor. If not immediately after the injury occurs, then anytime you feel excessive pain, swelling or heat emanating from the damaged toe.

 • This was the the third time I've lost a toenail and the second time on that particular toe. The first time was 20 years ago and the nail grew back perfectly normal. Is my troll toe the result of this being a repeat injury or was the trauma more serious this time? I don't know, but I would recommend trying to keep the damaged toenail in situ until the new nail is fully grown. Previous times my damaged nails stuck around till the new one regrew underneath and it was a lot easier.

 • Soak the toe daily in warm water with epsom salts or Dettol daily for the first month. Then soak it for 20 minutes anytime it feels tender or is red.

 • In the photo from August there's a yellow film at the top of the new nail. That "membrane" was very sensitive and touching it sent shivers down my spine. Once a breeze wafted over my foot and I gasped out loud. Eventually the membrane shrivelled up and I was able to wear socks. That was a good day.

 • As noted earlier when I damaged my toenails previously the damaged nails stayed in place until the new nails re-grew. Because this didn't happen this time I teased and pried up the lip of the new nail so that it grew up and over the skin on the toe bed and didn't become ingrown. This didn't hurt but it felt uncomfortable and I dreaded it. A nice vodka tonic beforehand always helped. Another one afterward didn't hurt.

 • At present the nail is normal length. But the top section is three times as thick as a healthy toenail. It has an uneven top surface and is soft and yellow. I attribute this to the damage I did when prying up the nail to keep it from growing into my nail bed. The more recent growth is completely normal and not discoloured.

 • Remember that you get what you pay for. So take this FREE advice from a COMPLETE STRANGER whose only medical expertise comes from watching House and screaming "It's not lupus! It's NEVER lupus! DON'T YOU REMEMBER LAST WEEK WHEN IT ALSO WAS NOT LUPUS?!" with a huge grain of salt.

And then go see a doctor.


  1. Jay lost his thumb nail once. It seemed like it was YEARS before it came back. I'm glad that yours is on its way to being a normal nail.

    Now I'd like a follow up post in a few months about what types of searches this happy post brings to you. (I'm a bossy commenter, huh)

    1. At least once a day someone comes looking for information about damaged toenails. I'm hoping it's because they want advice and it's not some deviant fetish thing. I'll DEFINITELY post if the latter proves to be the case.

  2. Aieeeee. I have a damaged toenail on my left foot, from dropping a bottle of pop (remember buying RC Cola in crates? I was bringing one upstairs, and dropped it, it shattered on my toe). I think I was seven or eight when this happened, and that toenail has always been a weird shape and thickness compared to every other toe. It's not noticeable though, since it's on my second-smallest toe, but yet it's THERE.

  3. That was helpful...says she is looking at steel-toed boots in another window...
    Glad it is (mostly) better.

  4. "who" is looking at another window...

  5. I have several toenails that have not been particularly good looking for a while now. Dr.s cream didn't help. Home-remedy found on the internet didn't help. Wearing shoes constantly to avoid showing other people my icky looking toes helps a little, but only in my mind.