Infection/Boil Help Needed - May be a little gross


Roll With It
husband came home yesterday thinking he had an ingrown toenail on his big toe. As soon as I looked at it I knew it wasn't an ingrown toenail.

There is a pocket of infection right next to the toenail. His toe is about twice the size of the other one and was deep red where the infection was and out almost around the nail. I put some antibiotic ointment on it and part of a lidoderm patch after that had been absorbed. This morning after his shower he asked me to lance it. By then the skin over the infection was almost neon green.

I normally don't mind lancing this kind of thing - too many times helping the vet with a cat I used to have moved me past that. But this was BAD. husband put a shirt in his mouth to bite down on and still screamed through it. I was as gentle as I could be, but also tried to work fast to get it over with - his request. Luckily I only had to stick it once with the needle. A TON of stuff came out of it.

He put a bit of a lidoderm patch (lidocaine patch) on it so he could put a shoe on as he is working a 4 week temp gig 9-5 all month. He went, but about 1 pm started to feel feverish and dizzy. So he came home.

The toe isn't showing green again, but is still dark red. there are not red lines radiating out, so hopefully it isn't spreading. (I did peroxide it after lancing it, and used tea tree oil on it also.)

Does anyone know if doxycycline would help this? husband will NOT go to the doctor today even though urgent care takes the medical card. I have him soaking it and sleeping now. We have a big bottle of doxycycline because it was given for J's acne but made her vomit. husband isn't allergic so he wants to try that.

I don't know what is going on, but lately husband and the kids have had a LOT of boils/infections. Jess had a fingernail, thank you had a HUGE boil on his tummy, husband had a boil on his shoulder that started as a zit and went bonkers.

Is there anything else to do besides soaking this and maybe lancing it again if the infection builds up? The lidoderm can only be on for 12 hrs out of 24 and he is saving that for working because it helped a lot. Though by the time he got home even that wasn't helping it.

Whatever this is, it seems to respond to tea tree oil FAR better than bactroban or neosporin cream. Any advice/hints will be helpful.

I do intend to go and do a thorough cleaning of their bathroom. I have a list in there and have had them do it, but I think it needs to be given a "Mom" clean with bleach water to kill germs in case it is something in there.

Thanks. Sorry if this is too much information. If there are questions I didn't answer, just ask.


Love me...Love me not

I've told you this before...and I'm saying it again:

I think your family has resistant staph!

I will PM you with some helpful info...


Well-Known Member
He needs to see a doctor! My son had something like that and waited till it was really, REALLY bad to get medical help - he couldn't get his shoe on and could hardly walk. When he finally did go to the doctor, they got all over him about waiting so long and told him all kinds of horror stories about what could have happened if he waited any longer!

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Epsom salt soaks, very very hot water. Soak until water turns sort of lukewarm. Several times a day. Will draw out the infection.....and it will drain by itself eventually. Had this with a finger near the nail as a kid. Use antibiotic ointment inbetween.

Would not hurt to get him tested. But honestly? Not much they can do. Except tell you to stay on top of it. "might" give him an antibiotic for it if it's MRSA........but doubtful. MRSA is far more common now and more people have it than you'd ever dream.


Active Member
Hound dog is right, she got in ahead of me! I heartily endorse the hot water and Epsom salts. I got this from a microbiologist who explained the science behind it.

Basically, what you describe is a staph infection. There is no way to know without detailed testing if it is a resistant staph or MRSA, but it IS staph. The problem with staph infections in toes and fingers, is the blood supply to those areas is tiny. When blood gets out to capillaries, the red cells have to line up and go through single-file. When there is tissue swelling, the capillaries are very leaky and the whole area is congested. Trying to use the circulatory system to get antibiotics to the infection, is even more difficult. The body is doing its darndest to fight the infection, by getting as many defence cells there as it can. But staph can be nasty.

Now to the next part of the lesson - staph is not always nasty. We ALL carry staph in some form. Staph causes pimples, folliculitis etc. You barely notice it most of the time. That is because most of the time, staph grows WITH oxygen. Aerobic. It stays out on the skin where it can get as much oxygen as it wants. Therefore it stays fairly harmless, as far as we individually are concerned.

BUT - sometimes staph gets into the tissues. A thorn from a rose, or a splinter. I would suspect with the edge of the toenail, that a skin tag tore. The break can be almost microscopic, but that is where the infection starts. And when the staph finds itself deep in the tissues where the oxygen supply is a lot lower, it changes tactics. it begins to grow WITHOUT oxygen. Anerobic. And this is where it can get nasty.

You all know the 'joy' of popping a pimple. Staph can build up quite a head of pus, but with a pimple, the pressure is released long before it becomes really painful. When you get a deeper tissue boil, the pressure can be exquisitely painful. It's almost diagnostic for staph - pain, intensely localised, with apparently not enough reason for that level of pain. If he complains about this pain, he is not being a wimp. And then the pus - the relief from the reduction in pressure is almost mystical.

if the infection source is not removed, the body will continue to fight. It might win, but a bit of help is a good idea. Because staph has friends and you do NOT want them invited to the party.

Do you have a cold or sore throat? Does he? Make sure all hands are washed before touching this boil, and try to not breathe on it. because anerobic staph's good buddy (and your worst nightmare if they join up) is Strep B. This is the bug that lives in our respiratory system and causes sore throats. It is used to less oxygen - we breathe in air (20% oxygen) and immediately it gets into our lungs, our body takes out what it can easily get. We breathe out about 5% oxygen (partial pressure). So strep B can manage on much lower oxygen as a rule. it also can go fully anaerobic if circumstances arise.

Now, if strep B joins the party, you get a nasty two-fold effect. The strep works on the edge of the infection, deep in the tissues. It separates the skin from the flesh underneath, at the margin. Strep B infections in boils look soggy. it is not as painful as staph, but with staph as well, it hurts a lot. Now, once strep has loosened the skin away a little, staph moves in and builds up pus there. This is like driving a wedge into a log you're trying to split. Something's gotta give, and it's your foot. As the staph moves in, the strep burrows in deeper, and so it continues. the result looks a lot like flesh-eating bugs. I know - I've had this, so has easy child. We fought it according to our pathologist's instructions.

easy child was put on oral antibiotics. In her case, the infection was on a finger. Again, extremities. getting antibiotics to the site via the bloodstream was not enough, so we used the hot water and Epsom salts.

Now for tha added bit of advice that makes the difference - DO THIS EVERY THREE HOURS. You need to do this at least three times a day, three hours interval, on three consecutive days. If you haven't got Epsom salts, use table salt. or no salt. The heat is the thing. The salt, if you use it, will work to draw excess fluid out of the tissues which will allow any antibiotics to get through a little more easily The heat - ditto. But the real magic in this, the most effective way it works - staph hates heat.

STAPH HATES HEAT. it interferes with cell division. All bacteria have to divide. They continue to grow bigger and a cell that gets too big finally cannot function because it takes too long for various =nutrients etc to get to where they have to go. So the cell divides at a certain point. With staph, it divides about every 4 hours. Heat interferes with this. if you expose staph to heat, if it's hot enough, it stops the cell division in its tracks and the cell has to start the process over. This takes time. And you do it again, and interrupt it again. Do it again, and the cells are finally too big to function and cannot survive.
Now this is a bit hit and miss. There is a limit to how much heat you can stand, especially in a toe that is so painful. The trick is, to put your foot (or other affected appendage) into water as hot as you can stand it. As your skin adapts, increase the heat (ie pour in more water from the kettle).

easy child's infection cleared up in a couple of days with this treatment plus antibiotics. My last two-pronged infection (staph plus strep) was eating into my hand badly and I could not be give antibiotics. Another hallmark of this sort of infection is that it makes you feel sick - that is the poison from the staph getting into your body systemically. Nasty. An indication that, if possible, antibiotics are needed.

I treated mine (under a specialist's supervision) with just the hot water. It took about four days before I saw improvement, after a week I stopped feeling feverish. I remember this was during my mother's funeral, so I remember the time well. I was using a coffee mug in the motel, and the kettle, to heat the water and soak my hand. I walked around talking to people with my hand stuffed into a mug of hot water. hey, I'm the family eccentric, I could hear people thinking...

Another important point - if a doctor wants to sample the pus and get it tested, INSIST on the sample being grown anaerobically as well as aerobically. The anaerobic plates will tend to grow smaller colonies for the same severity of infection, and this can also be misread by an inexperienced technician. Ask for the senior pathologist to review the case.

Staph is nasty. I had a recurring staph infection in one big toe. Thankfully apart from the first infection, it stayed as staph only. But I finally had a wedge resection on that toe, to reduce the incidence of recurrence. Sometimes the shape of the nail and the toe can predispose you to repeat infections. it is possible for there to be residual infection in the tissues, but staph is so common, reinfection is much more likely, in a really confined spot.

Now go and take that test in microbiology!



Active Member
You can do this more often than three hours, of course. Less than four hours is your target. And if you keep the toe in really hot water for half an hour, the three hour clock begins when you remove the foot from the water. So actually, you can stretch this out a bit depending on how long he can stand to soak his foot. Overnight - you have to sleep. So start again first thing in the morning, because some bacteria will have survived and divided overnight.

If he's feeling sick and can tolerate antibiotics, get them into him. but the heat will help.


Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Thanks Marg! You're sooooo good at explaining. :bigsmile: Now if I could've just snuck you into my book bag at

And seriously Susie, you want that water HOT, to where it's really hard for him to keep it in there very long at first. Cuz one the hotter the's gonna cool fast for one thing.

Somehow during all that........I managed to painlessly loose the nail too. Not complaining about that, mine was really nasty. It was huge and green by the time I though Mom might want to see it. ugh


Active Member
Hound dog, if your nail was that bad, the bugs loosened it, not you. And you are right about the heat.

Think about it - to sterilise surgical instruments, they autoclave them. or boil them. But you can't boil a toe, you will cause deep tissue burns. So you have to compromise. The more heat you can stand, the better the damage to the bugs. But it takes time, you're not able to stand it hot enough to kill them. Only seriously inconvenience their mitotic division. You walk a fine line and take care to not damage the tissues any further than the bugs are already doing.

And if this is a repeat infection in the same area, consider having a wedge resection done. It makes the area more accessible to the air (oxygen - prevents these deep tissue staphs) and easier to look after.

Peroxide - it has to get into the area where the bugs are. otherwise it won't do a lot.

Alert - be very wary if the wound begins to heal in the centre, and is festering in a sort of ring around the edges. Treat the active area.

Forcing that foot into a shoe is probably not a good idea. Got any ugg boots? Or Sloggs?



Roll With It
I have been looking for his crocs. He doesn't usually like to wear them, but with this they may be the best choice. He is finally sleeping now, so we will start soaking it when he wakes up. Jess finally realized how I can tell he has a fever with-o even looking at him or touching him. ANY fever sends him into nonstop talking. he rambles on and on incessantly. Always has for some reason. Sort of funny when I think about it because he is not one who talks a whole lot. She was surprised when she linked how he was talking to the fever.

I don't know if other people do this, but he has ever since I met him.

Thanks for explaining everything so clearly. THAT is an explanation I can get husband to grasp. Enough science and logic to get him to follow it even if he doesn't want to. He has a bachelor's in biology so he will understand it clearly.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how well the tea tree oil works. I have yet to find much that it didn't help as much or more than neosporin or bactroban.


Active Member
I've had problems with boils coming and going for ages and its been driving me insane. I bought a bottle of stuff at Walmart, Tersaseptic antibacterial skin cleanser/shampoo. I cannot tell you how helpful it has been, and this is a problem plaguing me for years off and on. Past 6 months have been crazy. Since using this I had one small boil pop up in a problem spot, and it never grew to a full boil, this seemed to heal it before it got out of hand. I shower as normal, wash and rinse hair, wash with soap and rinse. I then use this product on a body puff and I wash all over, not just in the problem spots (as most boil sufferers know, they sure can migrate some times to new places), and rinse well. It was fairly inexpensive, especially given the benefit of no more boils! I think it was about $11-12 for a 200ml bottle. A little goes a long way with it too.


Roll With It
I will look for it. I would problem have to dispense it to them for each shower or they would forget, or else leave it sitting with the cap off so it diluted or got knocked down the drain. It sounds like a miracle product - and I don't want us to get to that point where we have had them for months or years.

I hope it keeps you from getting any more. Thank you for letting me know about this!