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Toenail Troubles

April 20, 2002

I’ve been thinking about toenail fungus. Sorry, but I have. The rest of this entry is going to be about my toenails, and toes, and fungus, and other possibly gross topics. Sorry. Just be glad I don’t have baby, or I’d probably be posting about poop.

It’s going to be sandal season soon, and I don’t want to show my toes to the world. (And no, socks with sandals is not an option for me, not at this time; I am not that uncool or that hip.) I don’t want to show my toes to the world because each of my big toenails has one half that’s a short, ragged mess. They got to this state because I clipped and filed off the thick, yellow, ridged parts that weren’t really attached to the nail bed any more. This isn’t the first time this has happened. At least one other year, I had the same situation. Until now, I blamed my ski boots and my skiing technique, since my toenails are fine until ski season starts. But then, on the first trip of the season, I put on the boots I dearly love because they are purple and used to be shiny (and because the brand name is highlighted with silvery rainbow colors when the light hits them right) and ski with my toes jammed up against the front of the boot, and then my big toes hurt when I touch the nail and dark bruises appear under the nails near their bases and it gets worse from there. As the nails grow out, they have a deep horizontal ridge, and start showing the aforementioned yellow, thick, and separated from the nail bed behavior. One year, I tried just buffing down the ridge, but that led to the end ripping off entirely, which hurt, so this year, I lifted the icky part up and clipped it as close as I could and buffed the ragged edge and covered up the depression I’d created with nail repair stuff for a few days. I’ll just have to be patient until the nails grow in (which they do, nicely).

Then last night I was reading the new Prevention, and there was a short article on nail fungus. Some of the symptoms were thick, yellow nails that separate from the nail bed. What? You mean, like my nails? I’d seen the t.v. commercials and read the print ads about the nail fungus drugs, but hadn’t thought they had anything to do with me. Yeah, my nails looked bad, but that’s because they were injured, not because they were infected with a fungus. Fungus is yucky, and I’m not yucky.

Well, maybe I am. I wonder about my ski boots. Are they a perfect breeding ground for fungus? Probably. Dark, wet, warm, yep. But what can I do? “Some people are just more prone to fungal infections”, says Prevention. Am I one of those people? I don’t remember this happening early in my ski career, but I didn’t ski as hard then, so there was less pressure on my feet then, so I guess that makes sense. I already cut my nails short before skiing. Would different boots help? I hate to spend that much money just because my toe nails look bad for part of every year.

Does it make sense to go to the doctor about this? I’m thinking not. I know the people in the t.v. commercial went to the doctor, even though at least one of them felt silly about it, but I didn’t much like the list of potential side effects I heard. So my nails look bad for part of the year. It doesn’t bother me enough to risk headaches and whatever else might happen. “Certain sexual side effects” are never good ones.

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