Toe Woes
May 19, 2021 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Mr Jane had/has a bout with toenail fungus. He's been treating it with Funginail and says its cured, but his toenails are thick and gnarly. He's asked me to help him get his feet looking better for sandal season. How best to clip these things? Can we file them? With what? Is this best left to a professional pedicurist (which he will likely balk at)?

I did read a number of previous posts regarding nail fungus and there is a course of Vicks/tea tree oil/Selsun blue in Mr Jane's future.
posted by sarajane to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I could remember the name of the pills I was prescribed when I had a fairly nasty problem with fingernail fungus, because whatever it was it cleared the problem up quickly and (hopefully) permanently, and to look at the nail now you'd never know there had been an issue. If seeing a doctor and obtaining prescription medicine is an option for you, that's what I'd recommend.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:12 AM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I hope he will consider the pedicure. My dad started getting them when his toenails got especially thick and he wasn't the only man there.
posted by latkes at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2021

It takes a LONG time for toenails to grow out. A professional pedicurist is equipped to deal with this, and it will help resist the urge to cut toenails too short in order to get rid of the thick and gnarly parts, which would then make an ingrown toenail more likely. You definitely don't want to trade one problem for another.

What is he balking at, specifically? Is he worried that he'll gross out the pedicurist? Believe me, they've seen it all. Is he afraid that pedicures aren't manly? Self-care knows no gender. And as latkes says above, he definitely wouldn't be the only man getting a pedicure. Proper foot care is an essential, and well-cared for feet not only look good, they feel great!
posted by Fuego at 10:22 AM on May 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I use a Dremel (bought and used solely for this purpose) to grind down the nails... and actually just did this minutes ago and am now soaking my feet and reading AskMeFi... I apply tea tree oil to the nails afterward.

I chose not to go the medication route because of the strain on the liver - they may have better options now. This grind-soak-oil treatment cured the nails on my two big toes... some of the other toenails still grow in thick but I grind them down and it takes a while for them to grow back — and are gradually improving. I do it about once a month.

I realize this sounds rather drastic but it doesn’t hurt at all and actually I find it soothing. I started doing it originally because I didn’t want to possibly spread my fungus at a pedicure place (but I suppose they have protocols for that, or I hope they do...) And once upon a time I thought I was doomed to have thick gross nails forever...
posted by profreader at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Profreader - so what bit do you use on the Dremel? We have one and Mr jane had suggested using it - which freaked me out.

For those that suggested a pedicure - I will work on him. He's rather an old school fuddy-duddy.. he just recently graduated to a salon haircut after going to the old man barber that he's gone to for 20+ years. Perhaps I can entice him with the leg massage...
posted by sarajane at 10:44 AM on May 19, 2021

Best answer: I was just coming in here to say that the thing that convinced Mr. BlahLaLa to finally try a pedicure was the fancy massage chair they have at the salon! So basically he's convinced himself he's just having a massage and whatever's going on with his toes is beside the point. ;)
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:52 AM on May 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I would skip the pedicure and go straight to a podiatrist for this. Fungal infections can be notoriously hard to get rid of without medical attention. And while salons have sanitary standards, they’re not perfectly sterile medical facilities. Make sure that a doctor has cleared him to go to a salon before he has a pedicurist look at his nails, otherwise he runs the risk of sharing a fungus with other customers.
posted by corey flood at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2021 [28 favorites]

Best answer: I would skip the pedicure and go straight to a podiatrist for this. Fungal infections can be notoriously hard to get rid of without medical attention.

Speaking from long experience, I agree with this.
posted by jgirl at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I use the rough sandpaper head — it’s like a cm long cylinder thing.

I actually picked this up after using a Dremel to grind down my (late) dog’s nails — she hated clippers but allowed the Dremel. Then I went out and bought my own.

The sandpaper goes slowly and even when/if it accidentally hits skin, it’s not painful at all. I grind it as close to the nailbed as I can, soak and then dab on the oil, which can then get to the fungus underneath.

It’s my understanding that a podiatrist uses a similar technique/tool.
posted by profreader at 11:08 AM on May 19, 2021

Best answer: I bought one of these cheese grater's relatives to deal with heel calluses, and I've since found that it does a bang-up job of grinding toenails into shape as well. I can go in quite hard with it and still cause no damage to the surrounding live flesh, which seems to be soft enough to get out of its way, and it's big enough to be pleasingly non-fiddly to use.
posted by flabdablet at 11:16 AM on May 19, 2021

I don't have a dremel but do have this nail drill that works the same way, with a bunch of attachments. I don't have fungus but had a thick toenail from an injury and this filed it down really well.
posted by pinochiette at 11:22 AM on May 19, 2021

Best answer: I recently started using my dremel for one of my big toes. I got a cheap set of grinding stone bits from harbor freight for another project, and used one of those, and it works a treat. As stated above, it doesn't hurt when it hits your skin; it would take pressure and a little bit of time to start wrecking your skin with a grinding bit, much more time than your reflexes will allow.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:26 AM on May 19, 2021

Best answer: Strongly adding my voice to seeing at least a GP if not a dermatologist or podiatrist. There are much worse places than toenails for fungal infections, like your internal organs, and if you don't treat it systemically it does not generally go away. Once you see it in your toenails, it's likely systemic and needs oral antifungal treatment.

Then let a podiatrist show you how to care for the infected toenails and help with regrowth when the infection is gone. Some people may need to use splint-type shapers (and/or avoid certain types of shoes) to keep uninfected new growth from going ingrown, and it's so much better to prevent that than treat it.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:10 PM on May 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Please dont bring known active toenail fungus into a salon. Their sterilization is good but not perfect, and he would be putting others at risk. Go to a podiatrist for meds and initial treatment, and then he can play around with the dremel after if he wants to.
posted by ananci at 12:13 PM on May 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

Popping back in to say that I agree with the comments not to go to the salon with an active fungal infection--I read the question originally as the infection was gone and you were merely dealing with the aftermath of thick nails. Once it's cleared up, then the pedicure can help him learn how to keep his toenails at a proper length and remove calluses. He doesn't have to go regularly, even just once can give him a good idea of what the proper end result should be.
posted by Fuego at 12:28 PM on May 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Hi, I'm an RN who is a board member/frequent volunteer at a pop-up foot care clinic in a homeless shelter. Let me tell you, I have seen some feet. (And spent a lot of time talking about foot and nail fungus).

1) It looks like FungiNail is a topical med? Nail fungus can penetrate pretty deeply, and topicals may not get to the root of the infection. Oral treatment, which your husband definitely get from a podiatrist and possibly get from his primary provider, is more likely to get anything systemic.

2) That said, toenail fungus is more unsightly than actively dangerous. The NPs I work with generally don't recommend oral treatment unless the thickened nails are ingrown/causing pain with walking, or if the patient is diabetic/otherwise at high risk of foot-related complications. Otherwise, the risk for liver damage from the oral meds is higher than the risk of the fungus itself.

3) Whether your husband intends to pursue oral meds or not, a podiatry visit would be good for getting his nails trimmed down from their current state and getting tips for nail care going forward.
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:19 PM on May 19, 2021 [5 favorites]

Yes, please see a podiatrist first before going to a salon. Toenail fungus is very stubborn and many OTC options will dial it back, but not get rid of it completely. It's irresponsible to bring an active infection to a salon as the fungus can spread. Confirm with a doctor that the infection is indeed gone before you go to get the nails managed. A podiatrist will also be able to reshape the nails.
posted by quince at 1:21 PM on May 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

if you want a safer alternative to using a dremel tool, you can get a callus remover. They work about the same as a dremel, except that if you push too hard they just stop turning, whereas if you push too hard with a dremel, it can go right through the nail.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:44 PM on May 19, 2021

Seconding a podiatrist. I had the same condition (super thick nail with fungus) and mine is much improved and looks almost normal now after about five visits.

(Note: I'm in the UK and I saw a chiropodist.)
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:59 AM on May 20, 2021

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