Ingrown Toenail Surgery and When You Should Have It

When the nail edge gets damaged and the nail no longer fits properly into its side groove, an ingrown toenail occurs. The nail tends to curl downward and digs into the skin, causing pain, redness, swelling, and drainage. Sometimes, a piece of nail called a lateral pointing spicule becomes embedded in the side tissue. The side tissue then becomes heaped up or hypertrophied.

 

Causes of an Ingrown Toenail

There are many causes for ingrown toenails, but the two most common causes are:

  • poorly fitting shoes
  • improperly trimmed nails

Tight-fitting shoes compress the side of the nail and adjust the fit of the nail in the grove. When nails are chipped off or torn, the edge of the nail can extend down into the corner of the nail groove. A chipped nail can irritate the skin next to the nail which produces inflammation, pain, swelling, redness, and sometimes, infection.

 

Prevention from Ingrown Toenails

If you want to know whether ingrown toenails can be prevented, the answer is a resounding yes. How can it be done? By trimming the nails properly. Nails should be cut straight across, with the corners protruding from the end of the toe. If you have children or teens that play with their toes in bed at night, have them wear socks to bed to keep them from picking at their toenails.

 

Treatment of Painful Toenails

When an ingrown toenail becomes mildly inflamed (slightly sore and red), soaking the foot in warm water and placing a piece of dry cotton underneath the corner of the nail might be all you need to do. If, however, the ingrown toenail gets worse, the inflammation might increase. A podiatrist might prescribe an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics to be tried at this stage. If the problem becomes worse, surgical removal of part of the nail might be prescribed by the podiatrist.


 

Surgical Procedure for Ingrown Toenails

Removing a small portion of the side of the nail and destroying the nail bed beneath is what happens in the surgical procedure. The toe is injected with anesthesia and the toenail is cut to create a new, straight nail edge. The cells underneath the affected nail will try to grow a new one thus they must be destroyed, creating a permanently thinner nail.

 

Recovery Time from Ingrown Toenail Surgery

Following the surgery, your affected foot should be kept elevated for a few hours and keep it rested. The next day, you can return to school or work. Refrain from running or doing vigorous exercise for two weeks after the surgery.

 

For more information on ingrown toenail surgery, call Sheldon H. Nadal, DPM today.