What I’ve Been Doing The Past Week.

I have done nothing interesting. Seriously. My life is a huge bore and there’s no reason for you to read this post. It will be a complete waste of your time. Unless you want to hear about how I set up a surgery in my bathroom and operated on my own foot. But who doesn’t do that??

That’s my toe. I can think of no warmer welcome I could extend to you for this, my weekend post, than a shot of my festering foot. You see I developed an ingrown toenail which may be the most disturbing of all the ingrown things. 

I somehow broke my toenail a week ago. I can’t even remember how I did it. It’s winter so, I mean, it could have been from anything really. I have lost so much moisture by the middle of winter that sometimes when I blink my eyes don’t open back up. 

Breaking a nail can happen just by clapping my hands. I can’t even go to concerts during the winter months for fear of spraying the surrounding audience with shards of my nails. Nobody wants that many strangers having access to their DNA.

Breaking my toenail somehow had the unfortunate side effect of causing the side of my nail to become ingrown.

Like a good little Googler, I immediately went to the Internet to see how long before I died of cancer from my ingrown toenail. Surprisingly none of the posts I read warned of it being a sure sign of toe cancer and therefore imminent death.

The most common ingrown toenail home remedy was to soak your foot in warm water. This softens the skin around the side of your big toe (it’s ALWAYS the big toe that the real asshead on your foot –  when’s the last time you got a bunion on your baby toe?) and allows the nail to grow out more easily.

I didn’t like that remedy because it didn’t seem extreme enough so I searched further into the depths of Google until I found a cure that involved dental floss, cotton balls and knives.

I got everything I needed and laid it out in my bathroom on a towel laid on my windowsill. Cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, Polysporin (I’m a very conscientious amateur surgeon), dental floss, a straight pin and an orange stick (I decided to go with an orange stick instead of a knife because my knives were in the dishwasher with salmonella on them).

According to random people on the Internet who probably no longer have toes, the cure to an ingrown toenail is to push the skin of your toe back and then pack the space between your toenail and skin with cotton. This pushes the skin aside and, I don’t know … helps the toenail un-ingrow?  

What the random Internet people don’t tell you is the blinding, blinding pain that will sear throughout your body the second you push the cotton in. I haven’t had a baby but I imagine the pain is on par with childbirth if you were birthing a baby out of your toe.

I pushed and smashed and shoved alcohol soaked cotton into my angry inflamed toe and pushed it in even further with an orange stick. It hurt. I peed a little. 

Then I covered everything up with a bandaid, closed the surgery for the night and went to bed. The next morning I expected to wake, look at my fully healed toe and begin my new life journey as a toe healer. Drifting off to sleep with a smile on my lips I envisioned being courted by all the best medical journals begging me to publish my findings. 

I almost got out of bed to Google restaurants around the Mayo clinic so I’d know what to wear when they asked me out for dinner and drinks to get my insight on toes. We’d laugh and clink glasses, and I’d feel so stupid for wondering what to wear because obviously we would all be wearing white doctor’s outfits with Mayo clinic written on them so everyone in the restaurant would know to be in awe of our healing powers.

I would flash a free smile at everyone who shyly admired me.

As it happens, when I woke up my toe was exactly the same only worse. So basically it was just worse. This wasn’t something I thought the medical journals would get excited about so I put off calling them.

Instead I tried the soaking my foot in warm water trick a few times a day which didn’t even require a surgical station in my bathroom at all. So disappointing.

I’m on day two of the foot soaking and I have no idea if my big, angry, asshead toe is better or worse, but if I find that it’s starting to leak and I will seek genuine medical attention, so don’t you worry about that. – I already have my therapist on speed dial. 

I meant to tell you all about the vegetable (and fruit!) seeds I bought last week at Seedy Saturday but I’m running right out of time here. I had no idea that toe story was going to be so long. Not to worry, I will have the seed porn next week. I promise.

Eating & Stuff

Have a good remainder of your weekend!


  1. Jennifer says:

    Soak with warm water & Epsom salt, no pain and almost instant relief. PS-those ingrown bastards grow at night.

  2. ellen nolan says:

    If you had birthed any babies your pee would have been a flood. Your toe would have been only a secondary concern. Stop biting the damn things. Put on clean undies and move along.

    Much Love,

    • Liz Hollier says:

      Ellen, dont wait too long to see a dr. about the foot. I have had two toes amputated because of infection. It can get severely infected within hours. Dont go into hot tubs or pools with an open foot wound. Be careful.

  3. Elaine says:

    I think you will love my trick!

    I feel for you, Karen – I’ve had ingrown toenails on and off for five decades and they hurt! I now sometimes even get the start of one on other toes too because with age, things (and the shape of nails) change.

    The best advice I can give you (it speeds up healing) is – after you get cotton under the nail (and even if you can’t if the nail’s too short), put your heel on the toilet seat (lid up) so your toes are situated over the water in the bowl in case of spills. Then put a drop or two of peroxide on the sore area. Immediately, you will see bubbles – a good sign! If you can bear the pain, try and pull the puffy red area away from the nail so the peroxide gets in there. If you can’t, don’t worry.

    Repeat this 3 or 4 times a day and the redness/swelling will lessen in about two days. When it’s really bad on the first day, I use the peroxide about 4 times a day. After about two or three days, the pain is much less. As I said, even if you can’t get the cotton under the nail, try the peroxide as it reduces the swelling and it will be less painful to try the cotton again. I have an old Eye dropper so I pour a bit of peroxide in the bottle’s cap then use the dropper to put the peroxide on the toe. I wish I could cut my nails shorter but if I do so, I’m setting myself up for trouble so I keep nails (the big toe, that is) in line with the edge of the toe.

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m so glad to follow your blog! SO sorry about the ingrown toe but how many bloggers have the gutz to post a picture of their ingrown toenail AND share a recipe in the same post. I did LOL more than once – but not at your pain! Good luck on that ingrown. I seldom cit my toenails instead just allowing them to grow long enough to keep filed off straight. I’m going to try the soup recipe tomorrow.

  5. Tracey Durrett says:

    Hi Karen,
    My Mom has been a Podiatric Medical Assistant for 50 (yes, that’s 5-0!) years and I have also worked in the same field (both back and front office). Ingrown nails are both a painful and common problem. We would tell patients to soak the toe in lukewarm water and Epsom salt at least 3x a day. The Epsom salt has a drawing agent that helps calm the infection. Their are a few in-office surgical procedures that can be done to help also. Both use local antisethetic and the shots are certainly not painless, but can be worth it. the most minor involves removing the root (matrix) of the nail and treating the are with a chemical called Phenol. This does not guarantee that the root will not grow back in time. The other, more permanent solution is to remove (evulse) the entire nail.
    Hope your toe is better soon,

    • Karen says:

      ACK! I don’t want my toenail removed. My feet are ugly enough as it is, lol! I’ve been soaking. Only once today but I’ll go do it again immediately! Plus I’ll add some epsom salts. A few articles I read said they weren’t necessary and didn’t do much so I avoided them. Thx. ~ karen!

      • Virginia M Toombs says:

        Always use Epson salt, it cures it all. LOL. But the salt helps with the infection. Not too much is needed. I have been there but it was on my middle toe.

      • Gina says:

        The toenail issue – I’m lazy and impatient. So, soaked it once, that did nothing then after I just waiting for it to get red enough to convince me it was infected (didn’t have to wait too long), I callled my doc for antibiotics 😊

  6. Marilyn says:

    Hope your toe gets better. New subject: Did you ever make the tutorial for the shutters? I can’t find it and think I want these too.
    Thanks, Marilyn

  7. Peggy Malsom says:

    Reread Sabina’s V cure. It works. My grandmother taught me this trick 60 years ago and it really does work. So many toes with so many ingrown nails when all you have to do is cut the V. Of course don’t leave any sharp edges in the corners to grow into problems.

  8. susang says:

    off topic – have you tried an air fryer? thinking of getting one. didn’t know where to look on your site. once I start scrolling around – my whole days become a solid “art of doing stuff” marathon

    • Karen says:

      LOL, well that’s a good thing for me, but maybe not such a productive thing for you. Although you’re probably learning a few things going through my posts so that’s productive! I haven’t bought an air fryer. I’ve come close a few times but ultimately decided I don’t eat fried foods alllll that often so I’m happy to actually fry them when I do have them. :) That combined with the space it would take up in my kitchen brought me to my determination. ~ karen!

  9. Laura Bart says:

    Yes. Yes cyber-world I am commenting on ingrown toenails. I have had “the surgery,” on both big boys, twice. Lotsa years in-between the two so evidently they can grow back. As it was ‘splained to me, after the delightful numbing meds (lidocaine) take effect, the doc removes a tiny-ish strip of the nail bed where the growth tends to go “in” causing the inflammation and PAIN. Then some chemical is applied which disallows any nail to grow back. The first surgery must not have been aggressive enough because about 12 years later I decided I wanted it done again. The result is that the outside of my nails are straight and the whole nail on those toes is noticeably smaller. My husband does not have a foot fetish and I do not have any pain so everyone lived happily ever after. No regrets. Except for buying in to the ridiculous fashion demand of wearing heels and somewhat pointy toed shoes to work for 25+ years.

  10. Lesley says:

    Ugh, I feel your pain. I dealt with an ingrown big toenail for months after running my toe into a curb last spring and turning it purple. I’ve been snipping down the ingrown side of the toenail and then yanking it out, then soaking it in salt water and Polyspirining at night. After three sessions like that the nail started growing normally again. Fingers crossed.

  11. Marilyn Meagher says:


  12. Jane says:

    I also experienced ingrown toe nail once as a child. My own fault, clipping toenails the wrong way and wearing tight shoes. The soaking & cotton balls did the trick, though it did take a while. It was painful and uncomfortable walking & running, but not sure if it’s up there with childbirth – had to have epidural for both. My dad though needed surgery for his, probably left it too long, I remember him soaking his foot every day after work for days, weeks, I don’t know, … It’s definitely an experience that scars you for life, living in constant fear of it happening again despite doing everything right.

  13. Eileen says:

    My solution is to get a pedicure on a regular basis. They take care of it and I end up with pretty toes. Easy peasy. And it’s a great excuse to get a pedicure….for medicinal purposes!!!!

  14. Sabina says:

    My ex would get ingrown toenails. To combat that he would notch out a V in the middle of the edge of the toenail. As the nail grows out instead of growing wide it will grow towards the V making it straighter. Then you can file the nail and eventually trim the V straight across as the nail grows out. It seems to work. You should always trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails. Hope you feel better soon!

  15. Christine Hilton says:

    Witchcraft for nails is like Latisse for lashes.

  16. Gillma says:

    My podiatrist said that hard skin beside the nail bed can cause the pain. I think ‘ingrowing’ only develops over time. I now rub coconut oil into my nail-side after every shower and make sure I soak my feet (in salt water If i’m zealous) at least once a week. Seems to ease the swelling and the ‘ouch I’ve banged my toe’ pain. Good luck!

  17. Emie says:

    Rn here with 13 years working for a podiatrist and my dad was a podiatrist too. I’d suggest for a home treatment to soak in warm water with a little white vinegar thrown in. After it softens use a tooth pick to gently roll a little bit of a cotton from a cotton ball and antibiotic ointment under the ingrown toenail. Repeat if the cotton falls out. This allows the nail to grow out straight and hopefully prevent any further infection. Give it a few days and if it’s not any better go see a podiatrist. I’ve seen these get really nasty and require minor surgery so please don’t let it get to that point before getting help. Good luck!!!

    • Karen says:

      Thank Emie! That’s basically what I’m doing. Or at least did until it hurt too much, lol. At this point there’s really no nail to stick the cotton under. That’s why I’m pushing it under where my skin overlaps my nail at the side of my toe. I must say it seems not healed, but quite a bit better this morning. ~ karen!

  18. Suzanne says:

    Ick. I had the rather awful “ingrown” toe nail surgery where they basically kill the nail on the side. Hurts more than you ever thought just getting the number shots in your toe joint. People who say you forget the pain of childbirth never had a child! This is right up there, just shorter. Works, but is it worth it? Still trying to decide! 15 years later. DO NOT do what I did, ignore the surgery, the pain etc… keep that little bugger UP, like above your heart up, and don’t walk much till it heals. (I didn’t. What a dumb ass.). Your nail will never look like yours again! But it won’t hurt. You decide. The other option is pack that cotton under the nail, and NEVER cut it below the top of your toe again! What moron designed the big toe and put it in shoes? Wrong!

    Good luck, whatever you decide.

    • Bethany Jones says:

      I had that surgery, too! Six painful shots to numb my stupid 12-year-old toe (the straight down between the toes one was the BEST!!)

  19. Dana Studer says:

    Sometimes they hurt worse afterward even though it was actually fixed.
    On a trip to Chicago years ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to dig out an ingrown on hubby’s big hairy toe. It still traumatizes me and him. You should have heard him.

  20. Etta Lanuti says:

    Nothing to mess with! Be sure to take a flask with the good stuff with you when you go to the doctor. They give locals….they do not knock you out..mores the pity. I empathize.

  21. Sheri says:

    Scary enough to make me try REALLY, REALLY HARD to never get an ingrown toenail! Thinking of wearing steel-toed boots from now on!!

  22. Christy Minafri says:

    I hope Asshead heals soon.

  23. Parker McCoy says:

    I had an ingrown toenail as a kid. Man. I had it cut out twice and it was no fun. I haven’t had one since. I only trim my toenails when absolutely necessary. I live in fear…haha. Great post!

    • Karen says:

      Well I did pull the skin back and lift the nail until my eyes were streaming so I’m hoping I’ve averted actual surgery. Not confident, but hoping.😭~ karen!

  24. Olga says:

    I’ve had ingrown toenail several times. Surprisingly also on my big toes. It actually started with one, to the point I end up going to the surgeon because I could cure green puss with any home remedies anymore. They used very nice toe clippers and cliped it right out of my toe while my finger nails dug into their “almost leather”chair. That was before I had children and even though the pain was similar to the childbirth, it only lasted literally a second. I still remember it very vividly even though it was 22 years ago. The bad news no matter what you do the ingrown nail comes back. Now for some reason I have both of my toes with ingrown nails however I do clip them myself now. It requires little tiny flat tool that usually sold in pedi/mani kits and you kind of dig that nail out of your toe and then clip straight down. 😉

  25. Lynn says:

    Hi Karen if have to say I know your feeling on this subject lol.
    Like you I did the google 😉 , it took a long time to fix mine 😕 then it got stepped on an it repeated the process….
    Now several years later I still find I have to protect said toe as any kind of bump causes pain on said toe and I am hobbled again.
    Not I am sure what you wanted to hear … right.

  26. Suzanne says:

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 OMG…..you make me laugh out loud !
    Thanks for that!

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