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Blisters, Red toe, toenail loss

DarcyWalksThe World

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Rookie Mistake:

WARNING:
Photos of Ugly Toes Ahead

Brought my Solomon trail runners that I’ve been walking in for the last year. Easily walk 10Km+ and never have a single issue with my toes or feet.
They are not a 1/2 size bigger than normal.

I started with these and thin Injinji socks with lanolin-moisturizer and tape around any possible “hot spots”.
Great for 2 days.

Bought new Injinji socks—slightly thicker—in Pamplona and wore them on Day 3.
I knew they felt “snug” when I put my Solomons on but shrugged it off.

By the end of the day I could no longer wear the shoes. My second toe was red and inflamed, with a blister. Pharmacist said leave it but cover it. I switched to socks and my Merrell sandals which are not “truly” a hiking sandal….but they are working now for 4 days.

The toenail is lifting up more everyday. I wear one of those silicone toe sleeves on it and tape or Compeed every single toe. When I arrive and shower I take everything off and let it air out to breathe.

But the top area of the toe and directly under the toenail on the skin is still quite red and swollen.

This is long. Sorry.
questions: normal for the redness? Just keep going with sandals and wait for the toenail to fall off? Can I keep walking directly after that?

Also, ditch the shoes? I see no way I can wear them again. This means 3 more weeks of hiking in the Merrill’s…not ideal but I’m scared to buy new sandals…
 

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Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
Sorry about the feet. Looks painful, but its not obvious that you will need to see a doctor at this point IMHO, but if you are not sure, see a doctor rather than relying upon remote advice from random wags (like me!) on the internet. Unfortunately, your plight has been experienced by many, many pilgrims before you. Only you can judge what the right thing to do is, but here are a few generic thoughts:

- If anything seems to be getting infected, see a doctor immediately. The doctors on the first third of the Frances have seen it all when it comes to blisters and toenails.

- If you feel like you can't go on, hole up for a day or two and give the feet a chance to heal. If you have schedule issues, bus/taxi ahead as required.

- Shorten your distances for a few days

- Lighten your pack, or have one of the services send it ahead for a few days.

- Keep going with the sandals if they are comfortable enough, and not causing problems.

- Toss the Solomans, they are indeed, now just dead weight

- If you have a go-to athletic shoe that you know fits your foot, try and switch to that if you can find them locally. Sometimes, a change is as good as a rest. Same advice if you have alternate socks that work for you.

- If you need to experiment with new footwear, walk very short distances until you build some confidence in the new shoe. As you painfully discovered, things can get ugly fast when walking long distances.

Good luck!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I would get rid of the Solomons and perhaps take a day off and taxi back to Pamplona to buy new shoes, or better hiking sandals, since you may not want anything that puts any pressure on that toe for a while, or continue in your current sandals until Logroño where there is a Decathlon store and other sporting and shoe stores. Which style of Merrells do you have? I have walked several entire Caminos in Merrell sandals.

If you want to keep the Solomons to wear at home, but don't want to continue carrying them you can send them to Santiago via the post office.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
looking at 2018-2019
Sounds to me that it is more the ‘new’ socks than the shoes. Take it easy for a bit and go back to the old socks ASAP!
 

Texas Walker

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
IMHO...your toenail isn't that awful looking. (I had black toenails on both feet the first time.)
Your pre-Camino 10K-ish walks weren't enough to get the foot swelling thing going on, they deceived you. About Mile 8 the feet pop up to a new size...this would be about Kilometer...looking for converter on interwebs...Km13. My local test is a 10 mile (16Km) walk that goes to/from a local park, asphalt all the way but it lets you test the distance and shoe fit. Plus when I hit the park at the halfway point there is a restroom!

If you liked your Salomons before, try to get a full size larger in the same shoe. (Half size isn't enough, at least it wasn't for me...cue the aforementioned black toenails...though that owed a lot to walking in sopping wet shoes and sox in a flooding rain day...and not knowing about heel lock lacing too.) I say this because you have already worked out the general shoe shape. But you definitely need a larger size shoe. When I got these blisters I was wearing a shoe that was only half size larger than the one that had proven too small on my local walk. santiago 040.JPG

I never purposely drained a toenail blister on the trail but I know that when it drains itself things feel a LOT better...hand sanitizer cleanups, gauze and paper tape every morning, fresh air not matter how chilly it is all evening long.

I am not a fan of the Compeed because when it warms up in the boot the glue melts and sometimes it then rolls itself into a lump under your foot.

I say hand sanitizer because it's just alcohol. And you probably have it on hand as you walk.

Fabric bandaging tape is likely to melt the glue inside the boot and leave sticky on the inside of your socks, very hard to remove, the paper surgical tape is in all the farmacias as is the gauze. You do have a small scissors to cut the gauze with, right?
If your toenail drains itself you need to be extra careful to prevent infection, including fungal infection, from developing.

The pharmacists along the Camino know a lot about blisters, and they have mild prescribing authority.
Pic is from Pamplona, third day, you can tell by the glossy sheen that I was at that time using Vaseline. I have concluded that it's a bad plan, at least for me.

The feet were painful but they healed.
 
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zzotte

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
I’m sorry about about your feet problem, just make sure that you are doing a few things correctly, of course some shoes are not made to go the distance so you may have to get a different shoe, but more importantly is hydration, secondly usually toe nail lose is caused by the pressure of going down hill so its important to secure your feet before the downhill ( a 1/2 size bigger helps) keeping your feet dry by changing socks often helps a lot too.
 

howardd5

Member
Rookie Mistake:

WARNING:
Photos of Ugly Toes Ahead

Brought my Solomon trail runners that I’ve been walking in for the last year. Easily walk 10Km+ and never have a single issue with my toes or feet.
They are not a 1/2 size bigger than normal.

I started with these and thin Injinji socks with lanolin-moisturizer and tape around any possible “hot spots”.
Great for 2 days.

Bought new Injinji socks—slightly thicker—in Pamplona and wore them on Day 3.
I knew they felt “snug” when I put my Solomons on but shrugged it off.

By the end of the day I could no longer wear the shoes. My second toe was red and inflamed, with a blister. Pharmacist said leave it but cover it. I switched to socks and my Merrell sandals which are not “truly” a hiking sandal….but they are working now for 4 days.

The toenail is lifting up more everyday. I wear one of those silicone toe sleeves on it and tape or Compeed every single toe. When I arrive and shower I take everything off and let it air out to breathe.

But the top area of the toe and directly under the toenail on the skin is still quite red and swollen.

This is long. Sorry.
questions: normal for the redness? Just keep going with sandals and wait for the toenail to fall off? Can I keep walking directly after that?

Also, ditch the shoes? I see no way I can wear them again. This means 3 more weeks of hiking in the Merrill’s…not ideal but I’m scared to buy new sandals…
Sorry about your feet . I've been there and done that .I think it all goes back to your shoes are not a whole size larger. Yes a whole size ! Send them on and take them home to wear . I have learned the hard way about feet on the Camino . My feet any way . They sweat and thus get blisters with all the agonizingly painful dead end . I do bring walking shoes but wear Teva sandals 90% of the time . Sandals have eliminated most blisters and despite dirty feet and a few small stone getting in , I'm happy to say I can walk most anywhere in them . You are going to lose that toenail that was pinched by your tight shoes so let it be ,it will slowly drop off unless you play with it and it gets infected. Tape it together lose . My idea for hiking feet are : first buy your socks ,good merino wool ,not too tight . Then shop for walking shoes with those socks . Buy light weight and breathable and a whole size larger than you'd wear at home .you can add a sock liner to add space in your feet while training . Buy hiking sandals, I like Teva, and wear them for a month almost every day to break in the sandals ,BUT your feet will dry up and hardin and there is nothing worse than blisters on pink and soft feet . I use a lubricant I make of 1/2 lanolin and 1/2 beeswax melted together to coat my feet and toes each morning on the trail . After your shower at the end of waking day let your "dogs" air out and dry with those sandals . After about ten Camino and long treks I've finally figured it out for me. Good luck
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
FOOT HEALTH IS PRIMARY. Better with a good pair of cheap sneakers and some good socks, AFTER those tootsies heal up. If it takes 3 days off, it takes 3 days off.
 

Calisteve

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
June 16 CF
July 17 CF with my son
July 18 CP with my wife
July 19 Ingles Muxia & Finisterre
I've worn Solomons on each of my Caminos - sometimes I got blisters, sometimes not. Just returned from Lisbon to Porto doing an average 30kms a day. By day 3 I had blisters on 2 toes under the nail - i'm presuming the shoes were too loose (my fault). I dressed and bandaged them daily. Everything was fine and the nails came off yesterday - a week after getting home. But as other have said, if they appear to be getting worse - seek professional advice.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
Good luck with your blisters. In our first two caminos I developed toe blisters that led to black toe and eventual loss of the nail. Prior to our third camino I paid for two pedicures. And wore extra size Merrell Moabs, two sets of socks, paper tape, lambs wool. Did not work. I developed painful blisters under both large toenails. I worried I would lose one or both within days. Fortunately I always get a prescription for Keflex antibiotic. So I started the meds and this prevented infection. The blisters eventually decreased and healed. I did lose both nails but several weeks after I got back home

I believe the root cause last time were the punishing steep downhill climbs just before before Zubiri and down from Alto de Perdon to Uterga. For our upcoming camino we will hike the alternate road descents to both towns. Good luck! Bob
 

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Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007/8/9, 2011 , 2012/13/14. C.F 2015
Camino Portugues 2017,2018,2019
volunteering
My twopence halfpenny worth. Cut nails short the night before you travel, and make sure your heels are tight to the back of your boot or shoe before tying the laces. If you feel any movement of your foot forwards on downhills Stop, and tie the laces again.. It is the nail repeatedly hitting the front of your boot that causes the injury to the root of the nail and the bruising.

After years of blisters and wondering why I don't get blisters here in Ireland I came to the conclusion that it is the heat in Spain that causes the feet to sweat and then the wetness softens the skin and one gets blisters, so I started putting antiperspirant on my feet each morning, all over and between the toes, and since then I have not got blisters on Camino. It works for me and it might work for you for you. I use a stick deodorant. Buen Camino to you all.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
If you have brought hiking sandals with you change into them before steep descents to avoid the toe problem.
A short term expedient measure if you don't have sandals is to tighten up your laces, both routinely when you have a rest stop, and on steeper slopes. This prevents the foot sliding forward if any wriggle room has developed as you have been walking.

Using the thinnest socks you have has already been mentioned. It also gives you a little more space in front of your toes.

If you do laces up very tightly to go down a steep slope, take a moment to adjust the tension once you are at the bottom, and make you feet more comfortable once your toes aren't being driven into the toe-box by the slope.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
It is possible that you may also be doing what I tend to do unless I think about it.

When I walk downhill on steeper parts of the way I tend to curl my toes under so that they can "dig in" and give me more grip. This is a reflex response. Of course, I am wearing shoes and so curling my toes does nothing for my grip but it does damage my toenails.

As you walk downhill try to remember to be conscious of what you are doing with your toes and if you are curling them under then uncurl them. 🐾🐾🐾
 
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