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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: Fungal infections

Question: I've had ingrown toenails for five years

 jealentus - Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:47 am

I met a man the other day who had his big toe amputated on his left foot, and until I had seen the reality of amputation I didn't feel as much between a rock and a hard place as I do now. I've been running from the problem since I was 15 and I think its finally time to face it.

I'm more scared than ever now though because of the man's foot. He said it was because of staff or something to that effect, I don't remember exactly but he I asked if its possible to get it from an ingrown toenail, to which he seemed very sure of himself.

The obvious answer is to go and get it checked out by a doctor. I know this. I've just now got health insurance after a year of not having it, preceeding by me just being too much of a panzy to do anything about it when I had insurance in the past.

Anyway, I'm not worried so much about the nail itself as much as I am about the infected area surrounding. I'd actually prefer to never see the nails again. So when it first started it was just a bit of inflamation on the ridges of the toes. As the first year came and went it got more swollen and leaked a smelly liquid into my socks. I've always been careful not to let it get seen. It got progressively worse over time but kind of came to a standstill at about 2 and a half years in. The sides of the nail are swollen and look like skin is trying to overlap itself. I have feeling in the sides of my toe but not on the growths. I grow fungus on it regularly as well.

It actually comes and goes in two or three month cycles. At one point the area around the nail became too sensitive to clip using toenail clippers so I just started bending the nail backward until it broke off about 1/4 of the way into the toe, leaving 3/4 to cover. Its shorter than I ever clipped them when the nails were normal. There would be an immense feeling of relief where the nail was no longer digging and I could see the redness and swelling of the area go down a bit every time I break it off, but the leaking gets worse. Over two or three months the nail grows back and the leaking stops. Fungus grows out the sides too. Once it becomes a crust like formation I clean it off.

I always soak my feet every day but for the last five years no one has seen them bare. I realize in this height of desperation the minimum I could leave the doctors office with is a total removal of the nail. I'm just scared to death of having to get the amputation. I know its all my own doing but I'd like to have an idea of what I'm going to get myself into when I go to the doctor.

The toes themselves aren't really discolored or anything aside from some red which is deeper closer to the nail, but they look inflated.

I can provide pictures tommorow when I've got a camera handy.

But from what I've written could you please tell me what I've gotten myself into? How does the procedure to amputation and the recovery from that go about? Based on what I've told you what are the odds of amputation? How long does it take before gangrene forms in the toe? What are some symptoms so I can know if I have gangrene or toe terminal infection?

Thanks for reading, and I'm sorry for the novel of a post. This is really just about the scariest thing I've had to face in my life.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:03 pm

User avatar Hello,
Of course we can all relate to procrastinating healthcare that we worry will be worse than the condition itself. When you add lack of coverage, it makes it easy to wait. But, it sounds like you are now ready to get some help. I would suggest you see a podiatrist. They are very proficient at dealing with ingrown toenails. If treatment for infection is needed first this doctor will be able to do that; if it is determined you are a good candidate to have a repair, the doctor will be able to do this. I have seen excellent results from the work of podiatrists since feet are their full-time concern.

They remove the part of the nail that embeds itself, then they treat the root so it won't continue to grow that way. Results are impressive and you will be surprised how little pain you are likely to experience compared to the pain you have been enduring with the ingrown nails and infection.

Most likely you will have some aftercare including soaks in a solution to reduce inflammation and guard against infection.

Good luck - I'm sure you will find much relief.
Best wishes.
 MedicalQuestions - Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:33 pm

I've had an ingrown toenail three times and each time I probably let it go longer than I should, but trust me, the "surgery" is pretty easy and you'll feel so much better afterward.

The first time was on my left big toe and I went to a normal doctor who removed the entire toenail but didn't deaden the root. It grew back and became infected again. This time I went to a podiatrist who simply trimmed the left and right side of the toenail and deadened that area so it wouldn't grow back again.

I had to have that same procedure done by the podiatrist on my right foot as well.

It's been about 2 years since the left toe was fixed and about a year for the right and I haven't had any problems since.

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