Time for a vulnerable post. This may not be the best blog title, but it is a huge part of my life and a journey I worked on this summer. I will warn you there may be a bit TMI and the pictures certainly aren’t pretty, until the end, but I felt this was important to share my journey and talk about. Over the years, I have tried some natural methods, like putting tea tree oil on my toe nails. It would sort of help the nails, but not my overall foot. In the winter, my heel would get so bad it would crack and I would use Vaseline on it. Some days it was so painful to walk on my heel, I would have a limp as I mostly stepped on my toes. I don’t know if anyone knew it would get this bad for me. I mean I hid it well. I also was just embarrassed by my one foot whenever I was in a yoga class or trying to enjoy the occasional pedicure. Even when I get massages, I always feel a bit embarrassed that they would touch my feet, but I love a good foot rub.
It had come to the point where some people would notice my foot looking red or like something was wrong with it just from a photograph. Probably one of the weirdest things, is that I only had the fungus on my right foot, not my left. Why is this?
If we back up to age 12 Alicia, this is when I believe my foot fungus started. (Yes this has been going on for 18 years!) As a kid, I rarely wore flip flops. This is important as foot fungus can be more prevalent when you are in sneakers all the time (HELLO ME). In summer I wore sandals with backs on them because my feet would sweat so much. I diagnosed myself with hyperhidrosis as a kid/teen. I would just slide out of any slip-on shoes (hence no flip flops). My hands would also sweat so bad, I would turn in math tests that looked like they got caught in the rain and dried. But this is not about my hands…let’s go back to my feet.
It’s important to note around this age, I had issues with ingrown toenails. It got so bad I went to a podiatrist a few times. It’s still something I remember so clearly, having had no surgeries up to this point (and only wisdom teeth since). They had to numb my left big toe and cut the sides of my toenail out. I still get shivers remembering the needles in my toe to numb it. I couldn’t bend my big toe for days and still to this day, I can bend my right big toe farther than my left. However, when I think about how I only ended up with foot fungus on my right foot, I think back to this time. I believe that minor surgery removed the fungus that had started in my left big toe and therefore never spread. I didn’t know this at the time, but I remember seeing the fungus start from the sides of my toenail. Eventually I had issues with my right foot being itchy and it was just red a lot of the time. This was entirely normal to me, but also NOT NORMAL.
Years and years of dealing with this, I figured, well I just have it for the rest of my life. This is what my right foot is like. I had heard there weren’t cures for foot fungus so I thought I had to deal. In winter, it needs some extra care with the crack that would inevitability reopen and I would need to apply Vaseline to it. After being with my husband for many years, he tried to find creams to tackle it. They would temporarily soothe the itchiness and flare ups, but nothing ever really took it away. My husband even thought getting the hot tub last year would help it, but it didn’t.
I declared the year of 2021 to focus on my health and one of those things was taking care of my foot fungus. Natural healing methods didn’t work so I finally went to my dermatologist to get prescribed a pill, Terbinafine HCI 250 mg. I was nervous of the side effects of a pill, but I was also at this point desperate to know if anything would work. I mean over half my life, as it was, I had dealt with this.
The pill was a 12-week protocol. In addition, my dermatologist prescribed a cream to put on my foot. This cream was previously prescribed to me and again it had temporary relief but never full healing. The dermatologist warned me that one side effect of the pill may be some cramping and bloating feeling. I definitely had this the first 3 days. The cramping would come around 2pm in the day and was not fun, but I would just drink water and deal with it. I rarely get any sort of period cramps, but it felt similar to that and I just had less of an appetite. I thought about how this pill was healing me from the inside out.
Here is the before:
The crack in my heel was so deep and it was amazing watching that part heal. My husband called it “the grand canyon” of my foot. Also note that the blue spec on my big toe was nail polish because I could never fully get nail polish off those toes.
Throughout this 12-week journey, I really wanted to document how my foot progressed. Since I started the pills on a Thursday. I took pictures weekly on Thursday or Friday. While it was slow progress, taking the photos really helped me see the change. Just after the first month, the redness of my foot was about gone. Like my foot was natural skin color?! WHAT?!
Just look at the start and about 6 weeks in. That skin color is just amazing.
Towards the end of the 12 weeks, I noticed my nails growing in and looking less concave like.
And after I was done taking the pill for 12 weeks, the nails continue to grow. They may not be perfect yet, but even months later, my foot still looks so much better. Like my foot actually looks semi normal.
As I went through this journey, I didn’t realize just how much this little issue affected my self confidence. I never wanted to show off my toes because while my left foot may look fine, my right foot did not. I’m so happy I took this journey. Honestly the pills were cheap and it was just a few visits to the dermatologist. I share this because I felt like there was not a cure for so long and I would just have to live with this. If others are feeling this way, I encourage you to see a dermatologist and try something else. My only side effect was that cramping in the first few days which was worth it. I am curious to see how winter goes this year without a cracked heel and now I won’t be afraid to show off my feet in some sandals when the weather warms up.