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R. Kelly's lawyer blamed a toenail infection for the his missed court appearance, but recovery from such an injury doesn't require isolation

Julia Naftulin , Business Insider US
 Oct 31, 2019, 01:04 PM
In this June 6, 2019, file photo, singer R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to 11 additional sex-related felonies during a court hearing before Judge Lawrence Flood at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago.
E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP
  • In a video from CBS Chicago reporter Megan Hickey, R. Kelly's lawyer Steve Greenberg told journalists that the singer was absent from court due to a toe infection that required his toenail be removed.
  • Kelly "didn't want to come today because the process where you're handcuffed to other inmates and so forth, someone can step on your foot," Steve Greenberg, Kelly's lawyer, said.
  • Although dealing with a toenail infection can be uncomfortable or even a bit painful, a podiatrist said it's a manageable condition that shouldn't hinder someone from walking, even if it's stepped on.
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R. Kelly missed his federal court hearing in Chicago on Wednesday, and according to his attorney, it's all because of the singer's toe.

In a video from CBS Chicago reporter Megan Hickey, Kelly's lawyer Steve Greenberg is shown addressing a group of reporters and explaining that his client is absent due to a toe infection that required Kelly's toenail be removed.

"He's in a walking boot because of that," Greenberg said, adding that Kelly "didn't want to come today because the process where you're handcuffed to other inmates and so forth, someone can step on your foot. They step on your foot and your toenail falls off, it can be quite painful."

At the end of the video, one reporter asks, "Which toenail?" but the clip ends before Greenberg responds.

Although dealing with a toenail infection or missing toenail can be uncomfortable, a podiatrist said it's a manageable condition that shouldn't hinder someone from walking.

If someone were to step on a person's infected toe, "the worst-case scenario would be permanent damage, which means it won't grow back," or will grow back in a disfigured way, Dr. Miguel Cunha, a Manhattan-based podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare, told Insider.

Infections often cause toenails to loosen or fall off

Greenberg didn't disclose the cause of Kelly's toe infection and subsequent nail removal, but these infections are typically due to injury to the area, fungus, or the auto-immune condition psoriasis, according to Healthline.

Sometimes medications, chemicals, or serious illness can cause a toe infection, but those causes are rare. Fungal infections, however, are more common, especially in athletes, people with diabetes, and those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Toe infections can often cause a person's toenail to loosen or completely fall off, according to Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Care. In other cases, portions of a toenail or the entire toenail may be removed to treat the infection.

Other times, an infection requires a part of the toenail to be removed, according to Manhattan-based podiatrist Dr. Hillary Brenner.

"I haven't seen Kelly's toe so I can't comment on his condition, but when my patients have toe infections I remove the border of the nail," Brenner told Insider.

Usually patients can return to business as usual right after treatments

According to Cunha, once the nail is removed, a podiatrist will apply a topical antibiotic and cover the infected area. Sometimes, doctors recommend a patient wear a surgical boot to relieve pressure from the area, and if the infection is severe, oral antibiotics could also be needed, Cunha said.

Draining some fluid from the toe may also be required, but Brenner said it's a "pretty straightforward" procedure and patients can go about their days as usual following treatment.

Still, it requires some care: "You should also cover it with an antibiotic or neosporin and Band-Aid to protect the area while you are waiting for your nail to grow back," Cunha said. "Wrap the area with gauze or a Band-Aid when you're out and about, but take it off before going to bed in order to let it breath."

It is possible for patients who are wearing boots to get their recovering toes stepped on, Brenner said, particularly in the New York City subway system. When that happens, it could lead to more nail-bed damage and the toenail may never grow back, she said.

Kelly has a history of missing court hearings

This isn't this first time Kelly has missed a court hearing. On September 12, Kelly was absent from his Minneapolis, Minnesota, court hearing for charges that the singer  offered $200 to a 17-year-old girl to take off her clothes and dance in 2001. According to his attorney Steve Greenberg, Kelly missed the hearing because he never got notice of the court appearance.

Kelly is currently detained in Chicago and has not pleaded guilty to charges against him in both Chicago and New York for a racketeering and sex trafficking young girls.

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