Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bicho do Pé, how I got it out and more

Outubro 01, 2009; 10/01/09

Since the boat trip my pinky toe had been bothering me. I felt like I had a splinter or something and it got under my nail. I was thinking that may be while hula dancing on the boat with wooden floors. There was this little black dot under my toe nail so i was thinking may be that was the splinter or may be I got a cut and some dirt went in so that is why it was hurting while my body was trying to push it out. So I tried to push it out by putting pressure on my toe but that really really hurt and some black liquid came out. I was thinking may be it's some dirt from the ocean mixed with some clear pus? I don't know it was really gross and it was super painful right before that came out and while it was coming out it was super painful.

But I thought well it'll just get better over time hopefully, and I didn't tell anyone about it. So I waited days but it only seemed to be getting worse, it was swollen and hurt a lot to put any pressure on it. It especially hurt in the morning. But the more suspicious thing about it was that there was a circle around the dot that was growing and making my skin look yellow and kind of black, so...Well actually since the beginning I had a gut feeling that it was a parasite, but finally I was like almost sure it was a parasite so I decided to tell my mom before I told Clara at school.
When I visited clara told her my symptoms and she looked at it, she's like "yep it's the Bicho do Pé, a little parasite that is found in pig, cat, or dog poop sometimes, like on the beach etc" and she told me to go to the COT which is the hospital that deals only with like cuts, burns, broken bones, and more topical things. My friend had already gone to get treated for what turned out to be a reaction to either a mosquito's bite or pee. It got all red and itchy and really it looked like he got burned or something.
Anyway so that was scheduled for the next day in the morning.
So, I was really nervous because well it had been almost a week that I probably got the parasite and I had no idea how much it had advanced and I did some research. It's called tunga penetrans and it lays a whole bunch of eggs as soon as it gets into your skin. It usually is in the foot hence bicho do Pé* foot. but I had the bad look that it got under my nail when it usually get the side of the foot and therefore is easier to remove. and aparently it's usually really super itchy itchy itchy itchy, but I only felt pain.
Anyway so i was to go the next mornign and my mae when with me, which made me feel a little more calm about it because I don't know if I could understand all the medical terms or system of the hospital. Man it's scary, but I have to admit at the same time I was excited, and felt confident that I would be better when it was all over
so here's my journal entry from the day it was removed:

"Today I had my Bicho do Pé removed; it was quite an emotional experience partially frustration that this had to happen, kinda pissed but at no one, not even myself, but I was also kind nervous because I didn't know how far the parasite had advanced or how much wa needed to be done to get it out. and it was generally sucky, I had mixed feelings like I felt pretty calm and brave about it at most points, on the way to the hospital thinking "it's okay, I know they're going to have to take it out...I'm cool, it's something reversable" i was thinking positively but trying to be reasonable with what might happen, at worst they'd have to cut off my toe. but that's the worst, there's no way they're going to need to cut off my foot or leg so... but I think it helped to mentally prepare myself, but to lose a toe! that's intense and i didn't want that to happen.
Anyway though as soon as I got to the COT doors, I got more nervous i'm like "they're gonna have to take off my nail but they'll get everythign out and my nail will grow back..then --oh my gosh they're gonna cut off my toe!" well regardless i'm sure there will be needles, and cutting and BLOOD. There WILL be blood.
blood makes me nervous and queezy and not too happy. So finally after being in the waiting room like 30 minutes they call me and I go into this like room divided into smaller little rooms by curtains I felt like I had seen this in war movies. but anyway then the Dr. finally came and saw me and this whole time my mae was like demanding the best attention and treatment, which made me feel a little more comfortable and trusting. But yeah the doctor came in, diagnosed the Bicho do Pé in like 5 seconds and then said "vamos ter que tira" and left which just means "we're going to have to take it" could be off, out. and what "it" was I'm not sure and I'm like oh my gosh my toe? or my nail? or the parasite"
oh it was torture and I still had to wait for him to come back, the nurse came back and was preparing the needles and all these sharp instruments.
but then he clarified just the nail. and oh man what a relief. So after I knew that I didn't want to see anything else, I just layed down and covered my eyes. I felt a little neurotic because i kept telling myself weird things like "oh this is just like I'm sleeping in bed, it's okay" and then suddenly he totally did the "distract and surprise" method as opposed to the "prepare, explain, and go in" that I'm used to the whole "okay you're going to feel a little sting like this or whatever" and yeah he was asking me if I had a namorado, then if I was allergic to any medication
me: "no just cats"
him: "well good thing your namorado isn't a cat" and BAM! he puts in the first injection and I did scream a little and almost kicked him I think. And then I calmed down and started laughing and BAM again, damn I thought that was over so I was surprised again. but then I felt something different and heard something else so I'm like okay it's over. And the whole time I was covering my eyse singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" while my mae was holding my hand and trying to distract me too.
And then it was over I got up and thanked the doctor he said he saved a little piece of my nail so that it can grow out more easily and. Relief. but then i looked over to the before, empty trash can and it was filled with gauze with BLOOD on it.
but it was okay then they wrapped up my toe and I was walking all weird.
They told me not to get it wet and to change it if it did. change it every other day for a week while putting on some medication that they also gave me, and they perscribed some antibiotics.
And i still went to school that day! even though I had some surgery performed, whatever I'm dedicated 'ta vendo?
Anyway I hope Clara knows how to take care of this, she said she would.


  1. Nicely written. I too have had bicho do pe. Four of them on different occasions. Two recently. I removed them easily with a sterilized needle by digging around the edges and removing the little black thing surrounded by cartilege it seemed. But the last one may not have been totally removed because several times later I experienced terrific itching and used an old toothbrush, dipping it into alcohol and scrubbing the area till the itching stopped. Haven't had any itching like that for a few weeks. Hope I killed the thing...which may have gone down between my big toe and its nail. Am seeing a foot doctor next week.


  2. Hey Carlos,
    4 bichos! Wow, you are brave to take care of that yourself. I would be paranoid about the eggs; the itching is really suspicious. Did you get it at the beach. Are you in Brasil, by the way?

  3. I suffer for 4 years from a similar situation but the lesions are much smaller and also around the waist and also on side burns. The animals are in the thousands. I bathe day after day in bleach, ammonia, and creosote. They have become resistant My wife especially is affected and I fear losing her, I believe that these are cloned with chiggers because they are so much smaller and resistant.I bathed in pure permectrin for several months and was near dead spending four days in the hospital. The doctors never addressed the problem. I understand that the resin of the American Mamee tree will kill this bug. We wre I believe slammed these from a vacuum cleaner bag on Thanksgiving four years ago and desperately will appreciate any help. Thanks