One of the most common foot conditions that we see in our practice in adults and children are ingrown toenails. An ingrown toenail most commonly affects the big toe, known anatomically as the Hallux. When an ingrown toenail occurs, the nail grows abnormally into the skin and flesh of the toe. This leads to pain and the overgrowth of skin tissue at the side of the nail.
Sometimes the edge of the toenail pierces the skin outside of the nail groove, beginning to act as a foreign body. Sometimes a nail is ingrown not only at the corner of the nail plate, but all the way down. The first signs of either condition are pain and swelling. The area of penetration may bleed or become infected, producing pus.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail?
The condition is caused by any of several factors. The most common of which is probably improper nail trimming, cutting the nail too much, so that when it begins to grow back it grows out of the “nail groove” directly into the flesh of the toe.
In addition, some people are hereditarily predisposed to developing the condition.
Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail?
Severe pain, infection, swelling, sometimes pus, are major symptoms of the condition. It is normally obvious with a visual inspection, which will show that the nail is in fact growing into the skin and flesh of the toe, and that an infection is present.
Treatment for Ingrown Toenail?
If you have an ingrown toenail, it is best to see your foot specialists for advice. Any toenail that is bleeding, excreting pus, or swollen should be examined by a doctor. Many people with ingrown toenails delay treatment, or make matters worse by resorting to home remedies that may be more painful than medical attention.
Painless Surgery for an Ingrown Toenail?
If the condition has resulted in permanent overgrowth of the tissue surrounding the nail margin, or in recurring infection, surgery may be required to treat the condition. Surgical treatment varies slightly depending on the particulars of each individual case.
In mild cases, removal of a portion of the tissue at the side of the nail groove may reduce pressure and irritation. In this procedure a wedge of tissue is removed and the healing process allows the groove to reform itself.
Sometimes surgery involves use of a local anesthetic and removal of a portion of the toenail and its root. Patients with recurrent ingrown nails may require the use of a medication known as liquid phenol, which permanently removes lateral portions of the nail matrix
In our practice we use a topical anesthestic before the injection called Ethly Chloride which freezes the skin to make patient's more comfortable.
Surgery for ingrown toenail is painless and easy to perform in the office setting. Patients should be able to put weight on their feet immediately after surgery but walking is uncomfortable. In most cases, toenails grow normally after surgery without imbedding themselves into the skin.
It is important to carefully follow instructions before and after any surgical procedure in order to have the best results and quicker recovery time. Changing the style of footwear you use is very important such as wearing a wider toe box shoe.