On The Run

Why My Toenails Were Removed


When I announced on social media that my toenails had been removed, many assumed it was “Runner’s Toe”, and in fairness, it was an easy assumption to make! Runner’s toe affects many runners as well as rock-climbers, footballers, squash and tennis players. It usually occurs when your toe repeatedly rubs on or slams into your shoe causing stress to your nail. This leads to bleeding under the nail and in bad cases, the toenail may even lift off the nail bed. 

However, my issue had little to do with running. I’ve had ingrown toenails for 20+ years with the likely cause being a fungal infection. I’ve survived this long without any real intervention thanks to the magical hands of my husband who has experimented with different “mining” techniques over the years which have brought great relief every few months. But this year I started feeling more uncomfortable and I decided to get them seen to professionally. With nothing on my training schedule, I set up the appointment… on my birthday, you know, to new beginnings and all!

My friend Sonja recommended Dr Mohammed Kadwa from Podiatry Africa who is the only BHPC registered Podiatrist practicing in Botswana. Dr Mohammed was very friendly, had a great sense of humour, and immediately made me feel less self-conscious about the state of my nails. I jokingly asked whether we would have to remove the “offending items”, and well… it turns out this was the best option. So the following day, I was back at the Clinic, with some extra big flip-flops in hand. The bed was decked out with all the utensils for the procedure. My husband pulled up close – no, not for moral support, but to capture it all for the blog! See how much I love you guys?! The toenail ablation started by injecting the local anaesthetic on the sides of both toes. This was the most painful part of the procedure. But I’ve had two babies and I’m a runner so I can take a bit of pain! Dr Mohammed then removed the right nail.

The second toe needed a bit more convincing as I still felt pain when Dr Mohammed tested the area to check if it was numb. After a few more jabs, it was fully numb and the nail removed.

The whole procedure took less than 20 minutes including the bandaging at the end. I felt extremely dizzy afterwards but we later attributed this to the fact that I’d hardly eaten that day and I was not well hydrated. So we immediately drove up to a nearby semausu and I was soon happily tucking into a bag of hot mafresh lovingly seasoned with salt and vinegar. Those chips hit the spot and I would highly recommend them after any surgical experience!

My toes were comfortable for a few hours after the procedure but later that evening I had to take some Ibuprofen. When I went for my first dressing change, Dr Mohammed said everything looked good and healthy. Following this, I did dressing changes at home – briefly soaking them in warm Epsom salt solution, then applying Betadine ointment and finally bandaging them.

It’s Day 9 and they seem to be healing beautifully. It will, of course, take several months for my nails to grow back and I’ll be on anti-fungal medication for the duration of that to ensure a healthy start to my new nails. As with everything in life, there will likely be a few hiccups on this journey, but right now, I feel hopeful and happy that I’ve taken this first step.

What about running? Although it’s been weird not to run, I’m quite grateful for the forced break. So I’ll be patient and focus on other things – some massages and pedicures perhaps?

Have you ever been to a podiatrist? Ever had your toenails removed? Are you a victim of Runner’s Toe? What about ingrown toenails? Spill the gory details!

I’m joining two fabulous runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up – the “Weekly Run Down”.

49 thoughts on “Why My Toenails Were Removed

  1. Thanks for the warning! Ditiro must have a good stomach. 😀😀

    Wow, that just looks so painful, Shathiso. I first thought that you would have to go through life without any toenails at all, so I was glad to learn that it’s only temporary. You can treat yourself to a full 10-toe pedicure in a few months (no discounts!) 😊
    Kai gets runner’s toe but I’ve never had issues so far. When will you be able to start running again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the warning would be highly appropriate!

      Ditiro’s profession as a vet surgeon has really been useful on this journey! He has seen a whole lot of gross, LOL, so this is nothing! Some people do end up removing the toe nails permanently – I’ve read many ultra runners have had to go down that route! Hopefully I don’t have to 🙂 And also glad it’s not related to running as that would be so upsetting for me! I should be up and about in a couple of more weeks now, give or take.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. girl, the pics, I had to literally scroll super fast, a glimpse was enough😅
    I definitely have runners toes and before reading your blog, I wondered if I should see a professional for them or just let them fall off on their own, now I know it’s best to see a pro, coz the toes look horrible 🙈🤣
    Enjoy your time off, have that pedi😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, thank you for sharing and I’m glad to read that it wasn’t a permanent fix and that new healthy nails will grow back in eventually. Happy healing! I’ve had problems with ingrown nails on my two big toes since I was a little girl. I don’t like getting pedicures because they rarely cut the nails the way mine need to be cut so I just do it myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I can really relate to this. I love pedicures but sometimes have actually asked that they just paint the nails without cutting or filing them as it can make them worse if not done the right way.

      Some people do get a permanent fix in the end but hopefully this works for me.


  4. wow this does sound painful! I am glad to read you are on the mend. I have lost a few toe nails over the years from running and have had the toe fungus as well. Mine don’t bother me enough to have them removed yet! Happy healing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, I meant to read this earlier, but forgot, so thanks for linking! I’ve had blisters under my 2nd & 3rd toe nails. I think it’s from the way I “grip” & “curl” my toes and not from the shoe fit. When I was seeing my podiatrist last year (and early this year), I asked him about the fungus issue. There’s a topical treatment (it goes on line nail polish, but isn’t as pretty LOL) and takes several months of treatments because the toe nails grow so slowly. I need to go back for a follow-up (from my stress fracture) so I think I’m going to go ahead with the nail treatment since it will be over the winter & no one has to see my toes LOL Stay tubed…theres probably a future blog post (and pics) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had topical treatments that didn’t work for me – I was probably too far gone, LOL! So I’d really encourage you to give it a shot, especially over winter!! And hopefully that does the trick. Bring on the pics when you write that blog post!!


  6. I had no idea toenails could become ingrown due to fungus! What a procedure to have on your birthday. I hope the new nails are nice and healthy!
    I’ve lost a couple of toenails due to marathons but they came off painlessly, on their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily, just the consultation was on my birthday. I saved the procedure for the following day so I could enjoy birthday dinner with the family! But honestly speaking, I feel like this was a gift to myself – I’ve just had it for so long so it kind of feels like a fresh start!


  7. Ahhh, very interesting! I’m no stranger to this type of thing because my husband is a pro at home toenail removal!! Every year he seems to end up smacking his big toe snow skiing, which then causes a painful toe. He’ll put a hot needle through it to release the blood, but then it always ends up needing to be removed. He prides in showing off his naked toes to the family and telling us all about the process! I hope your toes heal up well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not sure you really needed the warning- the title of your blog post was enough to make me save it for after breakfast : )
    This was super interesting- i want to see pictures of your nice new toenails when they grow back! I also have some toenail issues (not as severe as yours) but with everything else going on with my foot, the nails seem like the least of my problems. Maybe now that I’m seeing a podiatrist for everything else, I’ll ask him about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ewww! I’m wincing. I once had a very bad plantar’s wart that had to be removed with a laser — and yes, the shots to numb up my foot were horrible!

    I hope that this gives you relief. How long will it be before you can run? Just curious.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is really interesting and I’m glad you shared pics (and had a photographer there to take them!) I hope things heal up quickly and you’re back to running again soon! Hopefully this was a one time thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OW. EW. But glad you’re on the mend. And yes, you absolutely should get a 20% discount.
    salt & vinegar chips fix anything, but glad the pain was manageable anyway.
    I have dealt with slightly ingrown toenails, but luckily nothing that needs treatment. Lost a toe nail once or twice, but as much about toe stubbing as running

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been meaning to read this post – I thought you did experience Runner’s Toe. I’ve never had a toenail fall off but I did drop a large object on my toe once and had a “blue/back” big toenail that I was super self-conscious about for months until it healed.

    I”m glad you got the procedure and I hope you’re feeling much better as your new nails grow in! I have to admit I was nervous about the pics but they weren’t that scary LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

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