Ingrown Toenails

 

Stabbing pain. Swelling and redness. Skin so tender that just putting on a shoe can be an adventure.

Yep—ingrown toenails aren’t very much fun. And the longer you wait to treat them, the greater your risk of developing a dangerous infection—especially if you have diabetes, nerve damage, or poor circulation.

In this condition, soft flesh surrounding the toenail “folds over” a corner or edge of the nail itself. And as the nail digs downward, the discomfort can become extreme.

Fortunately, ingrown toenail treatment is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s also satisfying work for a podiatrist, since the relief on the faces of our patients is very gratifying!

What Causes an Ingrown Toenail?

There are several possible causes for your ingrown toenail. The most common include:

  • Improper toenail trimming. If you cut your nails too short, there is a greater likelihood that the adjacent skin will fold over the nail as it grows out. Leave a bit of length on the nail, and cut in a fairly straight line, rather than rounding the corners too much.
  • Ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too short or tight in the toe box can pinch nails and push them downward. Shoes that are too large slide around on the feet and bump up on the nails repeatedly.
  • Direct trauma. Stubbing your toe, dropping something on your foot, or even kicking a soccer ball over and over can contribute to an ingrown toenail.
  • Inherited genetics. Some people simply have excessively curved nails due to their genes. Unfortunately, this makes them prone to developing ingrown nails again and again.

Can I Treat My Ingrown
Toenail at Home?

We generally do not recommend this. Although home treatment can sometimes be successful for very mild ingrown toenails, overall success rates are low, and the risk that your ingrown toenail will eventually become infected are much higher. Even if you are able to get some relief, before long it will likely return.

You should never attempt home treatment if you have a high-risk condition (diabetes, nerve damage, poor circulation, etc.) or an ongoing infection.

Contrary to what you may have heard, neither cutting a “V” shaped notch in the nail nor repeatedly trimming the nail borders are effective treatments. Placing cotton under the nail is also a bad idea, as it becomes a magnet for bacteria. And most over-the-counter treatments don’t address the underlying problem, though they can help with pain.

How Are Ingrown Toenails Treated?

Ingrown toenails can be treated via a simple procedure performed in our office. A local anesthetic is used to numb the toe, so you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort. We then simply trim and remove the ingrown toenail, and bandage the toe. By the time the anesthesia wears off, you should be feeling a lot better!

If there is an infection present, we will of course provide additional treatment and prescribe an antibiotic as well.

For recurring ingrown toenails, we can also perform a second procedure to either alter the shape of the nail matrix, or remove a portion of it. Changing the shape of the matrix will allow the nail to grow back flatter, making it less likely to grow in. Removing a portion will prevent that part of the nail from growing back at all.

Is Recovery Difficult?

Recovery is usually very quick, with limited discomfort. We will provide all the instructions you need for your aftercare. Treatment is tolerated very well by the vast majority of patients, including small children.

There may be some residual throbbing, soreness, or pain after the anesthetic wears off, but this can typically be controlled with over-the-counter painkillers.

Most people can go back to work or school the following day, and return to more vigorous physical activities within a week or two. Full healing time varies but generally ranges from 2-4 weeks.

In summary, you really have nothing to lose by holding out.

If you want to get your ingrown toenails fixed for good, give Dr. Cory Pilling a call today at one of our two convenient locations:

Twin Falls: (208) 733-0436

Burley: (208) 678-2727

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