My toe hurts
February 12, 2007 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Please help me Dr. Metafilter, my swollen toe hurts and my real Dr. has failed me!

I first noticed my two had swollen up a bit after a night sleeping in a cheap motel. I put the swelling down to a bug bite (I get bitten frequently) and went about my life. Problem is after a week the swelling didn't go down and the skin around the toe hardened and it became uncomfortable to walk on. My doctor looked at it, declared it corns, and had me use salicylic acid on it. The acid turns the hardened skin white and cracks it, but after doing this for about a week the toe is still swollen, and occasionally leaks a clear liquid from the hard skin area. I'm stumped trying to figure this out because it does not itch, it's not broken because I can flex and walk fine, and it's not plantar warts because there is none of the discoloration. Please help.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Regardless of the cause, soaking your foot in warm water with epsom salts will help the discomfort.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:03 PM on February 12, 2007

I have to agree with PrecussivePaul on the soaking. Also, in the crack, you might want to apply antibacterial ointment. I got a prescription ointment called AmeriGel after an ingrown toenail surgery, which works very well for keeping any sort of open wound clean and speeds up the healing process. You might want to try procuring some of this through a prescription.
posted by DarkElf109 at 11:08 PM on February 12, 2007

Where on the toe is it? It could be an "ingrown toenail", though if it is you should seriously get a new doctor for not recognizing it.

These happen at the interface of the toenail and the toe. Sometimes a piece splinters off the toenail and grows into the skin - that's where it gets its name from. However other inflammations and irritations around there also have the same symptoms and treatments and are called that too.

What happens is for whatever reason (often some trauma, like dropping something on it or stubbing it real bad or something) the flesh there gets inflamed. It then swells pressing against the toenail, which irritates it further.

Epsom salts in a supersaturated solution draws fluid out which reduces the swelling. Hot water increases blood flow to the toe which helps heal it, and flushes away any irritation by-product which might exacerbate the inflammation.

Of course there's lots of other things that can go wrong, and if this isn't around the toenail then this isn't that.
posted by aubilenon at 11:15 PM on February 12, 2007

Have you considered gout?
posted by Neiltupper at 11:46 PM on February 12, 2007

Don't give up on your doctor just yet. Medicine is almost exclusively guesswork, and doctors provide pretty much your "best guess so far". Just because he didn't get it right away doesn't mean he isn't a trustworthy doctor.
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:40 AM on February 13, 2007

Go back to the doc - his/her best guess didn't happen to be right, so you can try something else.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:26 AM on February 13, 2007

I say to find a different doctor. I feel like I know too many people who have died from foot/toe infections.

Also, if it's oozing puss, it sounds infected.
posted by frecklefaerie at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2007

Pus is *usually* not going to be clear. But, if you have any sign of a fever or swelling or heat from the toe please, please call your doc or go to the ER.

How are you bandaging it? That could explain the continued swelling. Are you changing the bandage everday? Are you -- as you should -- using an antibiotic like neosporin on the bandage?
posted by skepticallypleased at 7:09 AM on February 14, 2007

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