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Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid
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(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/02/2008 22:02:23 MDT Print View

Hey BPL crew,

I'm exploring different non-antibiotic topical first aid treatments that work ON THE TRAIL, not just at home, for a common trail infection:

The Infected Big Toe

(at the side of the toenail, from hangnail or pressure). Imagine it is very painful, red, hot and swollen, such that you begin to limp and it is hard to sleep. Not an open wound, but under the skin.

I know triple anti-biotic works and that it works well on the trail, I've used it for this exact first aid scenerio on the JMT last year. However, I'd like to find other non-antibiotic options. I think I have found one (listed below), but I would like to hear what other BPL users have had success (or failure) with.

I've tried several natural remedies with success or failure in regards to this particular first aid issue in an on the trail setting, not only comfy at home where everything cures up much easier:

1. Honey and propolis based products - very minor success. Would help cure at home, but not on the trail, where conditions are less friendly. Note: works for other types of first aid like a cut.

2. Tea Tree Oil - almost success. Just not quite enough for trail use. Used successfully on staff infection at home, on the trail it was not quite strong enough for this infection, good for cuts and scrapes among other things.

3. Nutribiotic Skin Ointment with 2% Grapefruit Seed Extract and L-Lysine - excellent results, full success at home, seems to work as well as triple antibiotic, need to try on trail. I recently had this very toe infection after a 3-day hike and a week of work in tight boots. The above ointment worked in one night, where all the other natural remedies failed. Having used triple antib I can pretty much tell it is equally as strong. I'm excited to try it on the trail for more extensive testing. But my work is on a ranch and in boots all day walking in high heat, so it is pretty much like being on a hike.

As for technique, each night I cleaned the area with soap and water or chlorine and water, dried, applied topical and taped lightly with a breathable tape in an over-toe and around-toe formation, as shown in Fixing Your Feet.

Oh and by the way, please spare us the "antibiotics work, so you don't need anything else..." replies. I know and admit that they work, but for my own reasons I am interested in other treatments that also work. Sorry to have to add this note, but I've been plagued by posters who have nothing useful to say on these subjects and just want to take a stab.

Ok, happy note now!

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 06:57:37 MDT Print View

Pardon my ignorance and for changing the topic slightly. How does a topical ointment, antibiotic or otherwise cure an infection under the skin?

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Non- antibiotic Toe Remedy on 04/03/2008 06:57:37 MDT Print View


Edited by bill123 on 04/03/2008 07:21:14 MDT.

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Non-antibiotic Toe Infection Remedy on 04/03/2008 06:57:37 MDT Print View


Edited by bill123 on 04/03/2008 07:20:06 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 07:58:31 MDT Print View

First: get a good podiatrist - have them get you feet into top shape. If you are getting those kind of infections near/under your nail something is digging in (ie. your nail!) and this can be remedied quite easily in a few minutes.
Second: a hot toe soak/bath for your foot. It will help draw the nasty stuff out so yes, you can "pop" it. Yum! Once you remove the puss your foot will hurt a LOT less.

But back to the subject: do #1 first. Yes, it feels stupid paying someone to cut your toenails...but many of these owies ca be prevented :-)

I had my big toe nail grow weird after breaking my toe - and I suffered for years getting an infected area under my nail till I went and had my nail pared back by the Dr. It worked wonders!

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 13:18:12 MDT Print View

I had one of these infections a few years ago while guiding some of the Adirondack High Peaks. We went back to camp (resident summer camp), the nurse popped it and cleaned it, we soaked it several times in a hot salt/betadine solution, and got some antibiotics from the Dr. The next day I was back on the trail guiding the Dix Range in a day, from the trailhead. For on the trail 1st aid I would clean it, sterilize it, pop it, and soak it in warm water with salt or iodine in it (I already carry betadine for water treatment). Bandage w/antibiotics, it and keep it as clean as possible.
I also tied knots in my shoe laces so the toe area could stay loose, but the rest could tighten.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 14:21:56 MDT Print View

Thanks, guys for the input, but my question is about NON-ANTIBIOTIC treatments and not about prevention, but about when one already has the infection. Also it is not a poppable type wound, but an infection at the toenail just for clarification.

Anyone out there with information on that?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 22:23:11 MDT Print View

Honestly? A soaking in as hot as you can take it water will do more for you than anything else. It is what draws the nasty stuff out! As gross as this is, it is why taking a hot shower gets pimples to come to a head - same theory. Do that when you get an infection, rinse well and keep loosely covered. In the majority of cases with an otherwise healthy (ie..not diabetic) foot you will heal up.

And I know it isn't the answer you want....but if you have infections happening again and again, go see a podiatrist!!! It is one appt away from not getting them!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
And if you reaaalllly need a remedy on 04/03/2008 22:28:34 MDT Print View

Comfrey leaves, dried, in a tea bag. Add that to your foot bath. When done soaking, apply the tea bag directly to the wound.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 04/03/2008 22:39:52 MDT Print View

Honestly, it's pretty clear cut - you have a recurring issue that needs to have a professional take a look at it.

Chances are good that with a single treatment and it'll never come back or at least not for a good long while.

Trying to treat the symptoms isn't going to stop it from recurring. People lose toes due to stubborn attitudes regarding treating infections.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
So true!!!!! on 04/03/2008 22:49:12 MDT Print View

"People lose toes due to stubborn attitudes regarding treating infections."

Lord yes they do. My mom lost a chunk of one foot and had a couple very close calls to losing an entire leg due to the fact that she would put off treating her legs/toes/feet. Granted she had severe diabetes....but still, a good foot Dr. is priceless.

And my mom's amputation? Uh..yeah. So gross.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Toe infection on 04/04/2008 03:19:37 MDT Print View

I agree, if you have this problem a lot it might be helpful to have a podiatrist take a peek.

You said "hangnail or other toe infection," right?

I'm a surgeon, so my solution for a hangnail is rather definitive. Basically you have to trim off the little spur of nail that's digging into your toe. Stick something clean in along the edge of the nail where it's red and try to pry the nail spur out, then clip it off. In the process of this you will drain the pus. The infection will clear. All you need is a nail clipper or small knife, and a high pain tolerance. (Alternatively you could remove the whole nail, but you'd need a anesthetic or a few strong friends to hold you down to do that.)

Then, stop cutting your nails so short, especially at the sides. That's what causes hangnails. Leave them a little long.

If the problem isn't a hangnail and the skin is intact then I'm not sure that the topical antibiotic ointments you've been using are doing anything. Most of them are meant for open wounds and use antibiotics that aren't absorbed well cutaneously (and in fact are dangerous if used internally). Thus putting them on intact skin dosn't accomplish much. Most likely your body just fought the cellulitis off on it's own. Or, I suppose it could have seeped into the crease at the side of your nail and gotten to the infection that way, if that's where the infection was. If there's an abscess, though, it needs to be drained. ("Popped", as some have said, though a nice big incision works better than a pinhole.)

I have no idea how well grapefruit seed extract is absorbed.

Edited by acrosome on 04/04/2008 03:24:35 MDT.

ALan Smith
(smithalan00) - F
Re: Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 02/17/2011 05:01:22 MST Print View

Thanks for giving this non-antibiotic medicine to cure this problem
I myself believe in natural remedies because It does not have any side

Smith ALan

Edited by smithalan00 on 02/17/2011 05:02:20 MST.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 02/17/2011 09:07:25 MST Print View

If I had reoccurring infections, my non-antibiotic treatment of choice would be to discover the cause of the issue, and treat that.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Non-Antibiotic Toe Infection First Aid on 02/17/2011 09:44:01 MST Print View

If you're chronically wet you'll get fungus, that is athlete's foot

And trench foot I think? I wonder if anyone knows about that

Solutions - put on dry socks, different pair of socks each day, non-GTX boots dry out faster, wear sandals around camp with no socks