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  1. #1
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    Default FAK for nail loss on trail

    We leave Wednesday for a week of hiking on rough steep trails. One of my big toenails is black and purple. I don't want to think about what might be under it: dried blood, garden dirt/mulch, assorted fungi and microbugs. It is loose, but still attached along one side, along the base, and a small part of the other side. It's pretty sore today from a 7-mile dayhike, but I have time to recover. I'm worried that it will be VERY sore on our upcoming hike, and there won't be any recovery time until we head home. It's not ready to come off today, but it might while we're on the trail.

    What besides the following should I have in my First Aid Kit to care for my toe if the nail comes off?
    Nail clippers
    Neosporin
    Vaporub (for fungus)
    Tape/bandage

    Should I prioritize keeping the nail attached, to protect the toe? Or is it smarter to visit a clinic before I leave home and get the nail removed?

    We will be slackpacking about half the time. On those days I'll have access to a car (and pharmacies, etc).

  2. #2

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    Years ago, I had a toenail on my big toe get peeled back like that. I washed it every day, wrapped it in gauze, then slid a 35mm film canister over it to protect it from pressure inside my boot. It worked great until nail fell off on it's own. Film canisters are hard to find these days, but maybe you can cut down a small pill bottle to cover your injured toe.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maui Rhino View Post
    Years ago, I had a toenail on my big toe get peeled back like that. I washed it every day, wrapped it in gauze, then slid a 35mm film canister over it to protect it from pressure inside my boot. It worked great until nail fell off on it's own. Film canisters are hard to find these days, but maybe you can cut down a small pill bottle to cover your injured toe.
    That's an interesting and unique option. I think we do have an old film canister around here somewhere.

  4. #4

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    Perhaps go to a podiatrist and get it removed and wrapped up? Under the better safe than sorry theory.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    Perhaps go to a podiatrist and get it removed and wrapped up? Under the better safe than sorry theory.
    I concur with this , I would think they would have the best advice and recommendations for health and comfort. Good luck.

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    The nail looks better. I soaked it for half an hour then trimmed most of the loose material and cleaned underneath as much as I could. The soreness is less. Iím hopeful that I can live with it like it is. Iíll know more in 24 hours.

    It does seem that I should be prepared to cushion and wrap it on the trail.

    I doubt I could see a podiatrist before Wednesday but I will check. Seems unlikely that whoever is manning the local walk-in clinic would be equipped to help much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    The nail looks better. I soaked it for half an hour then trimmed most of the loose material and cleaned underneath as much as I could. The soreness is less. I’m hopeful that I can live with it like it is. I’ll know more in 24 hours.

    It does seem that I should be prepared to cushion and wrap it on the trail.

    I doubt I could see a podiatrist before Wednesday but I will check. Seems unlikely that whoever is manning the local walk-in clinic would be equipped to help much.
    That's good, it was sounding pretty gross there for awhile! Maybe not a podiatrist but your regular doctor or perhaps a local urgent care? Explain your situation and I'm pretty sure they'll work with you. Like you said once you get out there you're not gonna get much of a break for a week.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    That's good, it was sounding pretty gross there for awhile! Maybe not a podiatrist but your regular doctor or perhaps a local urgent care? Explain your situation and I'm pretty sure they'll work with you. Like you said once you get out there you're not gonna get much of a break for a week.......
    Well, I suppose I did intentionally make it sound gross. It is kinda gross honestly. But I'm a girl who walks around our little "farm" in bare feet sometimes. I have dirty feet a lot.
    I figure you have to kinda like dirt to enjoy backpacking.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    We leave Wednesday for a week of hiking on rough steep trails. One of my big toenails is black and purple. I don't want to think about what might be under it: dried blood, garden dirt/mulch, assorted fungi and microbugs. It is loose, but still attached along one side, along the base, and a small part of the other side. It's pretty sore today from a 7-mile dayhike, but I have time to recover. I'm worried that it will be VERY sore on our upcoming hike, and there won't be any recovery time until we head home. It's not ready to come off today, but it might while we're on the trail.

    What besides the following should I have in my First Aid Kit to care for my toe if the nail comes off?
    Nail clippers
    Neosporin
    Vaporub (for fungus)
    Tape/bandage

    Should I prioritize keeping the nail attached, to protect the toe? Or is it smarter to visit a clinic before I leave home and get the nail removed?

    We will be slackpacking about half the time. On those days I'll have access to a car (and pharmacies, etc).
    All good with the dirty ole farm girl feet ..... i was pertaining to the black and blue, barely hanging on toe nail thing. I would think the things you mentioned would suffice, I wouldn't think you'd need clippers just being out for a week. And of course a film canister and maybe ibuprofen and or a shot of your favorite adult alcoholic beverage for the end of the day.

  10. #10

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    Call a "toe truck"?

    Just had to say that.....

  11. #11
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    Pharmacies stock foam toe protectors. Give it a try.

  12. #12

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    Hopefully it was not your boots that caused it in the first place? I bruised a big toe from an ill-fitting pair of boots once. The toenail took a lot of time to fall off and regrow. It's certainly a good idea to consult a doctor of course. Rushing it may not be a good idea, if it's not ready to come off you might want to leave it. There won't be anything under the current nail to protect the toe, the nail regrows up from the base. Your toe is used to having the nail there, taking it off may not be helpful if it is sitting reasonably in place. Consider as a possible option to tape it with flexible cloth tape, a clean, flat layer with no bulging. Fold the tape though over the nail so it's not sticking too much that way your are not pulling the nail off with the tape (like putting tape on a blister). Maybe some cushion on the top, but the underside of the nail and the flesh of your toe are normally matched. If you put too much material on it you may create rubbing and blistering. Tape a blister up too much and you get more blistering from the tape.

    When the nail comes off on its own, it's not raw or anything like that. If you were to pull it off prematurely you might have a more open raw surface. I think it would freakin' hurt a bit too if you pull it off too soon! If I recall correctly the nail stayed more attached at the sides. I have only lost a a big toenail and little toenail though.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Call a "toe truck"?

    Just had to say that.....
    And make sure you use your AAA discount, lol. Couldn't help myself either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    Call a "toe truck"?

    Just had to say that.....
    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    And make sure you use your AAA discount, lol. Couldn't help myself either.
    Y'all are too funny.
    I mean too punny.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    Hopefully it was not your boots that caused it in the first place? I bruised a big toe from an ill-fitting pair of boots once. The toenail took a lot of time to fall off and regrow. It's certainly a good idea to consult a doctor of course. Rushing it may not be a good idea, if it's not ready to come off you might want to leave it. There won't be anything under the current nail to protect the toe, the nail regrows up from the base. Your toe is used to having the nail there, taking it off may not be helpful if it is sitting reasonably in place. Consider as a possible option to tape it with flexible cloth tape, a clean, flat layer with no bulging. Fold the tape though over the nail so it's not sticking too much that way your are not pulling the nail off with the tape (like putting tape on a blister). Maybe some cushion on the top, but the underside of the nail and the flesh of your toe are normally matched. If you put too much material on it you may create rubbing and blistering. Tape a blister up too much and you get more blistering from the tape.

    When the nail comes off on its own, it's not raw or anything like that. If you were to pull it off prematurely you might have a more open raw surface. I think it would freakin' hurt a bit too if you pull it off too soon! If I recall correctly the nail stayed more attached at the sides. I have only lost a a big toenail and little toenail though.
    I've trimmed a lot of loose material off, and what's left is discolored, but firmly attached. No way I'm pulling that off!

    Most of our days are low mileage. I'll definitely try to baby it, but the trail will be brutal and that's unavoidable. I think it will be okay. I'm feeling much better about the situation.

  16. #16

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    Puns aside, Alligator has a good point, the chief cause of toenail damage (especially big toe) are boots, steep downhills generally are the contributing factor. Sometimes making a lacing adjustment to prevent the foot from sliding forward and ram the toenail is all that is needed, sometimes a larger boot or boot with a roomier toe box is needed.

  17. #17

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    Get some of this powder from Walgreens....fantastic stuff. Multipurpose

    download (1).jpeg

  18. #18

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    You might need to check out bigger and/or wider boots. One summer I was having much foot pain, and I finally went from woman's size 8 1/2 to a
    man's size 8 1/2 wide. My problem was solved and I'm still wearing the larger size, with Superfeet insoles.

  19. #19

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    I have had a black toenail on my right foot since July 4th.Walking downhill was the culprit and it was not that long of a hike either.Just a simple overnighter walking a river trail in a local national forest.

    Nail is stable and not going anywhere like yours is.I wonder if you could soak yours in epsome salt nightly and douse it with hydrogen peroxide and tape it up after daily maintenance on the trail?I like the idea of the film canister;don't know how comfortable that would be.Have you got time to get larger shoes with more toe box room?Also,don't forget to take some pain killer in your kit.

    Having never lost a toenail before I would like to hear the experience of those that have.How painful and how long to get over it?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    I have had a black toenail on my right foot since July 4th.Walking downhill was the culprit and it was not that long of a hike either.Just a simple overnighter walking a river trail in a local national forest.

    Nail is stable and not going anywhere like yours is.I wonder if you could soak yours in epsome salt nightly and douse it with hydrogen peroxide and tape it up after daily maintenance on the trail?I like the idea of the film canister;don't know how comfortable that would be.Have you got time to get larger shoes with more toe box room?Also,don't forget to take some pain killer in your kit.

    Having never lost a toenail before I would like to hear the experience of those that have.How painful and how long to get over it?
    I don't remember there being any pain really after injuring the nail. It took a few weeks to fall off, I recall wondering whether it was going to or not. It was a slow process though, falling off and then regrowing, like a couple months if I am remembering correctly (15+ years ago).
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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