Ouch! A trip to base camp averages about 100,000 steps, with hills up and down along the way. Anyone can imagine that a sore toe could slow down if not stop any progress to the final destination, whether that’s trekking or climbing. Every year our doctors see foot problems that, if taken care of early might have easily been treated and kept from becoming disabling conditions. This particular type of case is called a paronychia, which is a focused infection beneath and around the nail. Treatment usually involves soaking the affected toe or finger and incision and drainage of the pus. Often, removal of part of the nail (after a numbing nerve block!) causes nearly immediate relief.
What causes these acute infections? Many times it’s local trauma, meaning a poor job trimming nails, or for toes, badly fitting boots, or biting fingernails. Experts recommend trimming nails about a week before a prolonged hike/climbing expedition, and avoiding trimming too short or at acute angles. In any case, attend to “hot spots” early rather than ignoring them – they will almost certainly speak up to cause bigger problems later!