You shouldn’t read this if you’ve recently eaten, plan on eating soon, have looked at food recently, will look at food in the future, have smelled food recently, will smell food soon, or are considering smelling food soon. Consider yourself warned.

Perhaps like me, you really enjoy a little self-care in the form a nice, relaxing pedicure every now and then. Maybe, it’s even a regular thing. You and your girlfriends, or you and your wife enjoy a glass of wine and a Pedi together- this is your thing, and you try not to notice when they dig around in your toes and pull all manner of foul things out. I mean, this is what you’re here for, right? Let them deal with that nastiness while you keep reading that book that’s starting to get fantastically juicy!

I’m going to need to stop you here. I want you to enjoy your blissful moments of quiet time away from the kids at the nail salon, I do, for the love God, please hear me—I do. But I also don’t want you to walk into the doctor’s office looking all cute, wearing your matching leopard print belt and ballet flats one minute and then having your toenail surgically removed the next.

Friends, the process of having your toenail removed in-office, with a local anesthetic, is about as pleasant as pooping out a cement block would be. (As I have never actually pooped out a cement block, I had to use my imagination here, but I think it’s pretty accurate.)

Being immunocompromised, I am no stranger to various rogue fungi on my toenail. However, I’ve never had one that hurt before. Recently, I’ve been opting for gel finishes on both my hands and feet. They are durable and available in lots of fun shades. Here’s the danger in them: you can’t see what’s going on underneath the nail. Because I wasn’t paying attention to changes in my nail at the salon, (I was busy enjoying my quiet time) I didn’t notice anything until my last pedicure and polish change almost a month ago. The tech didn’t say a word to me, but when I looked down, things didn’t seem right.

Over the next few weeks my toe began to hurt. I couldn’t get the gel polish off by myself, so I had to have a friend with knowledge in this area come over and help me. The fact that she is still speaking to me after what we found under that polish is nothing short of miraculous. In fact, I’m surprised she didn’t come back in the night and burn my house down. If you’ve ever wondered what real love looks like? This is it.

It was foul.

I knew was in deep, deep trouble. The dermatologist agreed. She said I had a bacterial infection, a fungus, and a sample of my toenail needed to be sent off to check for melanoma.

Oh, and the entire toenail needed to be removed.

So that was fun. Let me repeat: you do not want to enjoy this procedure.

As someone who has multiple chronic illnesses, I undergo many procedures each year. This one is at the top of my “least fun” list. I mean, what could be more fun then watching someone rip your toenail off?

Anyone free Friday night? Want to rip each other’s toenails off just for fun? Nope, nopity, no.

Here’s my PSA to the world: Take care of your feet and toenails! You do not want to enjoy this fun!

The bacteria I got inhabits warm water (like nail salon tubs.)

So my dermatologist said:

  1. Choose your nail salon carefully. Make sure the tools they use are sealed until they open them in front of you. They should be sanitized and sealed after each use.
  2. Make sure you see them sanitize the bath after each use. Bacteria and fungi can live in there.
  3. Look at your toes underneath the polish! Check for any changes.
  4. Treat fungus early on. Many bacteria and fungi hang out together.
  5. See a dermatologist right away if you have a dark stripe through your nail bed. These changes could be a sign of melanoma.
  6. Wear clean, dry shoes to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Good talk, right? It’s only because I love you and I never want you to have to watch someone rip your toenail off. I mean, that’s so much scarier than anything you’re going to see in the movie, “It.”

Stacey Philpot

Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.