Ewwww, my toenail!

I first wrote about my toenail AGES ago.  I cut the toenail down on the part where it was not attached to the toe bed anymore (more than half of it was not), and waited for it to grow.  And waited.  And waited…  Then, in November for my wedding, while getting my pedicure I had a fake porcelain toenail put in (remember how stressed out I was about having half a toenail with my cute shoes?).

So, the fake toenail stayed put.  Didn’t fall off, didn’t bother me, and my real toenail even grew!  So much so, that now I was sporting a bit unsightly too long toenail.  If I bumped my toes while wearing flipflops (which I managed to do twice in two days, including against the car door while getting out of the car), it would hurt like hell, as if the toenail was pulling away.

Seeing I’m running a half this weekend, I really didn’t want to cause more issues with my running by having that toenail being too overgrown.  So I did what every sane person would do and I clipped it to a more normal size.

Only to almost barf.

Remember how my toenail grew?  Yeah, it never reattached itself to the toe bed.  Nope.  2/3 of it, had a huge gap between the nail and the toe.  Gross.

This was right before I went to bed last night, and I thought “eh, it still looks good if you look from the top, so I’ll just keep it like that”

Except I couldn’t sleep.  My toe was throbbing all night.  Even the sheet on top of it was creating immense pain when it touched the toe.  I had to sleep with a foot sticking out of the sheets because of it.  And still I couldn’t handle the pain, and kept going in and out of sleep.

This morning, the pain was intense.  It felt like I had pliers squeezing around my toe for hours on end.  I was limping and flinching with every step.

It seems that by cutting the thick porcelain nail from the top, it caused my gaping toenail to curl into the inside of my toe, squeezing the skin in (like an ingrown toenail, except on both sides along the toe bed).

I couldn’t use the nail clippers — I still had a mixture of fake and real nail on the upper part of it, and though the gap was huge, it just wasn’t enough to fit clippers under it (almost, but not quite).  Finally, after desperately trying to find a coarse nail file in my place (ah, the joys of moving), I was able to file it down so it was thin enough that I could trim it down with a cuticle remover.  (Yes, my life is so glamorous, don’t hate.)

Long story short:  I’m back with a nub for a toenail (only about 1/3 of toenail is left, and that’s attached to my toe and not going anywhere) .  A month before I move to it’s-summer-year-round Manila.  Less than a month before I arrive in Rio.

Have I mentioned I love flipflops and sandals?


On the bright side, exposing the toe bed so that it looks completely gross, also means the pain completely went away, and I can walk (and hopefully run) again.

Stupid running, ruining me for sandal-season.

What’s your worse toenail story?  And has this gap between toe and nail ever happened to you?  What did you do to get your toenail to grow back in place?  I need my toes to look pretty again!


Filed under Injury

17 responses to “Ewwww, my toenail!

  1. OUCH!!! It’s funny that you write about this b/c I am just waiting for my right big toenail to fall off (after the damage done in my December marathon). The bruise is gradually taking over (although I keep my toenails polished AT ALL TIMES) and I can kind of tell it’s going to detach and I am truthfully anxious about it! Spring and summertime in the south means sandals/flip flops/peep toe pumps and I am wondering how I am going to deal with this missing a KEY toenail. Been debating on the porcelain toenail thing or possibly just polishing the skin to look like a toenail! How long does it usually take to grow back?

    • Bad news — it can take up to a year to fully grow back. And it won’t ever look the same as the toenail that never fell off (I only know this bc I lost one once playing beach volleyball).

      I just wish my WOULD fall out already. since it’s partially attached, it just keeps growing wrong.

  2. Wow… sounds painful but also very, very icky! I’m sorry 😦 My MIL lost a fingernail and it took 5 months to grow back to normal!

    I feel your pain because my left foot is currently skin-free on the bottom from all the barefoot Zumba on the rubber mats 😦 Yikes!

    Glad you didn’t post pictures of your toe! 😉 😉

  3. I messed up my left second toenail on my half marathon last year and it’s STILL messed up. It’s also grown back somewhat detached – about half of it hasn’t reattached properly. It’s been about a year, so I kind of thought it would go back to normal, but it hasn’t really.

    The truth of it is though, people don’t really look at your feet. We just say that they do as an excuse to buy cute shoes and get pedicures. I knew a girl who had been born without toenails on several of her toes, and I went to camp with her for weeks, wearing flip flops, until somebody noticed it. If you feel really self conscious about it when you wear sandals, put a band aid on it, but really, I would just leave all your toes unpainted and wear inconspicuous shoes, and nobody will look at your feet.

    • Ha! There’s a big difference between a second toe and the big toe. One is a bit more discreet.

      But I look at feet. ALL THE TIME. I know I’m not the only one!

      • For some reason, I didn’t realize it was your big toe. That one is way more obvious. Although I did come across these this morning in my search for sandals I can walk to work in and they might work for you – http://www.rei.com/product/810349 – your feet would be able to breathe, but your big toe wouldn’t show and it would be protected. Plus they would be great for hiking around someplace with rocks.

  4. I love this story! I love hearing gross things like this 🙂 It is bizarre that it grew and didn’t attach! I lost most of two of my toenails this year and they are actually growing back pretty quickly but stayed attached. I have heard you can just paint over the little nub. I bet people will hardly notice!

  5. julie

    I just saw this and I’m kind of late on the reply but makes me feel better because I have the exact same thing. I’m not a runner but I was in the Navy and had to wear boots all the time and I guess my feet hated it bc my toes always hurt and became ingrown, the Navy Dr. made me get one nail removed and I guess the 18 year old kid who had first aid classes didnt know what he was doing and tore my whole nail off and it never grew back. That was 10 years ago. And I still have the exact same thing, it will grow back but it’s not attached so it gets gross after a while and I have to cut it off and have a stump nail. But it never hurts thankfully. The longest I’ve let it go is a few months. It sucks and I wish I could figure out how to fix it. Dr. said it will grow back, but it doesn’t ….

    • Mine looks like it’s attaching back, but it’s likely because I’m not running anymore. I can’t even tell what I did different… My father did say to use those foot scrub brushes and get a good scrubbing down on the skin in the shower to see if it gets soft again for it to attach — maybe that helped?

  6. I have the same thing wrong with my toenail! Except that it was removed on purpose due to an infected ingrown toenail. But only about a third of it is attached underneath and the rest grows like a thick unsightly talon 😦 It sucks, been that way since I was 8. I have to file down the thick hump and keep it painted because it is so discolored (non-fungal according to the chiropodist) and ugly. At least then it looks somewhat normal to people who aren’t looking directly at it! I get self conscious about it all the time and I’m hoping to find someone who can repair it somehow..!

  7. Fion

    My current situation is.. my toe nail looks like a inverted T.
    At first I pick on it is because one time I worked at a place where there required us to wear heels. And after working for 12 hours, I go home to find two black spots inside my nail. and it was creepy.
    For weeks I didn’t touch it, tried applying medication on it but there’s no difference at all.
    But then I started picking on it, thinking if cutting away will solve the problem. so I cut and
    cut. then at one quarter of my nail is gone. And I scrap away the dried blood. Oh ya, I can totally touch my toebed? And so I cut away another side. But now, dried blood is gone. But.. My toe nail is gone too. Its not painful. But disgusting. And I can’t wear slippers because my toe looks too creepy.
    Somehow I don’t think my toe nail will grow back anymore. 😦

  8. Laura

    January 31, 2012
    I went to a crowded concert a couple of years ago and a big guy stepped on my big toe so hard that my toenail turned black and came off. Then it grew back detached. I live in the SE and a friend who is a Podiatrist lives in the NW, and I told her about it on the phone. She said to cut it back as far as I can and let it grow back. I cut all of the detached part of the nail off and only had 1/4 of a toenail left. Now I have almost 1/2 a toenail but it looks gross. Guess I will go to a Podiatrist or Orthopedic Foot Specialist to see if it has fungus or why it looks so awful, and see what they recommend. If that doesn’t help, when it grows back if it detaches again I will just keep it painted and learn to live with it. Let me know if anyone out there finds a solution??

  9. i have a pinky toe that only has a small piece of nail stuck to it because it hurts to take it off so will it grow back?

  10. I know this is an old thread but here it goes. I have the same thing going on for 5 years now. Had it removed due to ingrown toenail and it grows out detached and thick. ICK. More detached each time! This all started on my 10th 60 mile cancer walk. My daughter lost hers at the same time because of the walk but had success! The difference? Every single morning and Every single night she sprayed the nail inside and out with foot fungal spray. This was recommended by my podiatrist as well. I just never seem to stay with the program. I have to get back to my quarterly nail cutback now.

  11. Adrianne

    I know this is really old, but my husband has the same thing on his big toe on his left foot. He was working on a loading dock and had someone drop a pallet of soda on his foot with a forklift. That was almost 20 years ago. To this day, about every 2 months, his toenail (which grows with a gap between the nail and his toe) cracks about halfway down and he has to pull it off or it it gets infected. Just curious if anyone has had any luck with “curing” this bizarre condition?

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