Friday, December 7, 2007

Careful! Don't Squeeze the Vicks Out from Under my Toenail!

Disclaimer (mainly to Chuck and Barry): you may rank this blog near the laser hair removal blogs on the quease-o-meter. Consider this your warning.

Getting older sucks for several reasons. Lately, my chief complaint is that I seem so much less resilient to ailments than when I was a kid. I've been battling toenail fungus (ewww!) in my right big toe for several months now.

First, you must know that it completely grosses me out to even admit this, but I'm kind of doing it in support of my friend, who recently had a procedure performed on her toe. Shortly thereafter, her five-year-old cousin stomped on said toe with Clydesdale force, and now she's lost all but a couple of millimeters of her toenail. And she's horrified over how it looks.

So to make her feel less self-conscious about her micro-nail, I'm tossing aside all pride and dignity and sharing my fungus story with the blogosphere. That's just the kind of friend I am.

Several months ago I removed some month-old nail polish from my toes and noticed that my right big toe was cloudy yellow. I immediately was disgusted, because I thought I must have toenail fungus. I even hate the word fungus, let alone actually having it under my toe. I went to the dermatologist, who said it wasn’t fungus, that there was some moisture under my toenail and it had caused the nail to pull away from the nail bed.

I wasn't sure whether to believe him. He is a doctor, but he always plays down my complaints. I come to him with "skin issues," and he tells me, "I don't deal in 'skin issues,' Lorrie. I deal in skin cancers." And he says it rather haughtily, as though my complaint of small blister-like appearances on my face- that aren't pimples- and the beginnings of age spots on the backs of my hands and these strange red spots on my skin aren't worth his time. Bastard.

Anyway, I had done some online research prior to seeing him and I found this Web site on toenail fungus remedies. I saw repeatedly that you could put Vicks vapor rub under the nail and the issue would go away. I also heard you could soak your toe in Listerine. He said either one might work.

So weeks and weeks and weeks pass by and it appeared I was making some progress with the Vicks. My toenail went from half of it being cloudy to a quarter of it being cloudy. So I got cocky and quit using the Vicks. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the cloudiness has come back with a vengeance. And in exactly the same pattern it was before.

All these months I’ve gone sans nail polish in an effort to keep the “moisture” out, and now I’m right back to square one.

My mom swears the dermatologist was wrong. With a cloudy yellow toenail that has taken on the appearance of a Ruffles potato chip, she swears it’s that…. f-word. So I’m back to putting Vicks on it, in hope that I don’t lose my whole toenail.

Now, in the evenings when we're lying down to watch TV and my loving husband offers to put lotion on my feet after a long day of standing, I get to utter these romantic words: "Careful! Don't squeeze the Vicks out from under my toenail!"

That's hot.

Here's what I don't understand: as a kid, I barely wore shoes. I could run barefoot across a yard full of acorns and hickory nuts like one of those idiots running across hot coals and never flinch. During the rainy season, the boys in the neighborhood and I would take inner tubes and float barefooted in about two feet of milky-colored water that collected in the bottom of a nearby pit. How I never wound up with intestinal worms or other parasites is beyond me.

But now I'm grown and I don't do things like that. I keep my feet clean. I use a nail brush to clean my toenails. And now my toenail apparently is so repulsed by the nail bed on which it lies that it obviously would rather pull up shop and run away rather than spend another minute there.

I need help, people. Does anyone know of other home remedies I might try? I refuse to go the prescription drug route. I understand prescription drugs may cure the fungus, but I don't want anything to do with the wacky side effects, such as extreme flatulence, loose stools, sudden gambling urges, decreased sex drive, more painful periods, liver disease, and sprouting of a third arm from my forehead that goes along with these miracle drugs.


Mark said...

I can relate. I had something in one of my fingers after a heavy metal lid slammed on it. I lost the nail from the smashing but for some reason it never grew back right. I lived with it that way for 5 years. Until I started noticing it was spreading to my other nails. I showed it to my Dr. and he prescribed an anti-fungal pill. In one week everything was cleared up, everywhere. No side effects (except for this recurring tick)lol. The vicks may work eventually but the prescription would probably work a lot quicker and knock it out for good. My 2 cents.

Chuck said...

Ok, first, have you tried numbing cream on your nail?

Sorry, I had to get that out of the way.

It sounds to me like you could have onycholysis. Don't worry, that just means "nail lifting." When the nail lifts, things get under it. Bacteria and yeast are two examples.

But it could be a sign of an underlying condition. Take a look here:

As for the "acne": it could be mild rosacea:

Somehow this reminds me of a short story. about a town with no doctors. By Shirley Jackson, I think.

And no, not The Lottery.

Vonya said...

Wow, Lorrie. Thanks for the laugh this morning. And I appreciate your support of my toe trauma.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what Mark is talking about. The only prescription for Nail Fungus that I am aware of is an Azole which must be taken for 3-4 months.

Lorrie said...


I think you're on to something. My toenail looks like the nail in the pics of onycholysis on that site. My toenail is much prettier than any of those, of course, but I think this is what I have.

Regarding the rosacea, it's definitely not that.

Thank God this doesn't remind of you The Lottery. I don't like that ending.

ridgeboy said...

I'd wear socks in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

Close to a THOUSAND dollars later, and 2 courses at 3 months each, worth of the didn't work for me.

I just ALWAYS wear toenail polish now. Which is rough in the truck stop showers with the other guys.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan Doble said...

Lorrie, how's the toenail lately? I just read this post (2 months after you wrote it) and wanted to share with you what I used when I had the "F" problem. I saw a podiatrist first...then he gave me some "Formula 3" (whatever the hell that is)...the main active ingredient is 'tolnaftat'--it's a yellow liquid in a nail-polish-like bottle and you 'paint' it on and under (as far as you can w/the brush) the toenail. In about a month, my whole toenail fell off...ugly...but, fungus is gone. It still hasn't grown all the way back yet but is 'almost' there. By spring I'll be able to wear sandals. Your's may already be cleared up; but i wanted to let you know about this anyway:)

Lorrie said...


I WISH the "F" was gone... I've trimmed back the nail and I'm still using the Vick's. I'm also contemplating soaking it in Listerine. I'm not holding out hope that this nail will look good by summer...

Anonymous said...

My mom had a toenail fungus as well and her podiatrist told her to use vapor rub. He said it would probably take a few months for it to clear up completely but it would work. She tried it and it did clear it up, and it was a lot quicker than several months!