What Are Ingrown Toenails?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the corners of the toenail pierce the flesh alongside the toenail.
Ingrown toenails commonly effect the big toe however ingrown toenails can occur in the lesser toes. Treatment involves the gentle removal of the offending toenail.
An ingrown toenail (or Onychocryptosis) is a painful condition generally effecting the great toe, however it is possible to develop an ingrown toenail in one of your lesser toes.
Ingrown toenails occur when the sides of the nail grow into the skin surrounding your toe.
When the nail pierces the skin, the risk of infection increases. Signs of infection include redness, heat, swelling and inflammation and later clear fluid and pus can appear at the site.
Common Causes of Ingrown Toenails?
An ingrown toenail can occur for many reasons, some of the more common reasons include:
Poor Fitting Footwear
Something as simple as ill fitting shoes can create toenail problems. Shoes that are too tight and narrow put unnecessary pressure on the edges of the toes and can create an ingrown toenail or even do permanent damage to the matrix (where the toenail grows from) creating incurvated nails. Incurvated toenails are nails that curl inwards from the matrix to the tip of the toe and lead to ingrown toenails.
Cutting Your Toenails Too Short
Cutting your toenails too short leads to the skin at the end of the toe becoming inflamed causing the sides of the nail to grow into the skin.
Poor Cutting of Your Toenails
Poor cutting, leaving rough edges that can tear, unskilled picking and pulling at the surrounding skin and toenail fragments can all lead to an ingrown toenail.
Always trim your toenails straight across and file them into the corner. If in doubt, always have your toenails medically reviewed by your podiatrist.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment.
Ingrown toenail treatment at Erica Dash Podiatry does not always involve surgery. If it is a first occurrence, our podiatrists will usually take a conservative approach. Our team of podiatrists will do their best to prevent ingrown toenails conservatively.
Conservative treatment involves the painless removal of the offending toenail, and your podiatrist will often place foam packing under the toenail to prevent the recurrence of your ingrown toenail.
Conservative treatment does not usually require a local anesthetic injection, however, if required a podiatrist is qualified to do so.
For chronic or recurring ingrown toenails surgical intervention may be required. A podiatrist is the qualified medical professional to consult for all toenail anomalies.
A partial or in some cases a total nail avulsion may be necessary to remove the problem and prevent its return forever. Nail avulsions involve the sterilisation of the matrix (growing area of the nail) under a local anesthetic.
It is a simple procedure to permanently remove an ingrown toenail, however if you do choose this treatment option you will have a narrower nail plate permanently.
Under sterile conditions, your podiatrist will inject a local anesthetic into your toe.
A tourniquet is then applied, the offending fragment of toenail is removed and the nail bed sterilised; a sterile dressing is applied and you will be required to return in a couple of days for redressing of the wound.
Your podiatrist will have you back to your usual duties within 24 hours, in most circumstances.
Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
Some symptoms of an ingrown toenail may include pain, swelling, redness (erythmia) and infection.
The skin surrounding the offending nail becomes red, hot and swollen, it is painful to touch, and a clear fluid usually seeps from the area, within a couple of days, the clear fluid usually turns to pus, indicative of an infection.
If symptoms of an ingrown toenail present, have your toe medically reviewed by a podiatrist or doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can An Ingrown Toenail Heal Itself?
Not usually. An ingrown toenail will generally become worse if left untreated, or treated with oral antibiotics alone (this is because there is a tiny spickule of nail which has pierced the skin and without treatment will continue to grow into the skin).
An ingrown toenail will require skillful removal of the offending nail, this can be done at Erica Dash Podiatry, usually painlessly without the need for local anaesthesia.
If surgery is required, the team of podiatrists at Erica Dash Podiatry are able to perform a procedure called a “partial nail avulsion (PNA)”, or in rare circumstances a “total nail avulsion (TNA)”.
I Have Had A Course Of Antibiotics, Why Do I Still Have Pain?
Oral antibiotics prescribed by the doctor will only settle the infection, not the cause of your ingrown toenail.
Unless you visit the clinic to have the cause of your infection (the small spike of toenail) removed, you will be at risk of more infections and of course your pain will persist.
How Can I Treat An Ingrown Toenail At Home?
One of the best ways to avoid infected ingrown toenails is to wear shoes wide and deep enough to not put pressure on your toes.
Cut your toenails straight across and file them into the corners. Filing your toenails ensures the nail edge is smooth.
Be sure not to cut your toenails too short, as the nail edge will be prone to growing into the surrounding skin.
Can A Podiatrist Prescribe Oral Antibiotics?
Most registered podiatrists are unable to prescribe antibiotics. You would need to consult your doctor for an oral antibiotic prescription to settle your infection.
Your podiatrist can however remove the offending nail and create relief from your pain.
Shockwave is a great alternative to treatments such as dry needling if you’re needle phobic and not keen on dry needling. We also have effective treatment offers for kids.