What can a Podiatrist do for an ingrown toenail?
Posted: Jun 04, 2021
Ingrown toenails are a common problem that can be very painful and they do not get better on their own. They are among the most common problems seen by podiatrists. The primary cause of an ingrown nail is a combination of a curved nail and a poor nail cutting technique.
The management of the ingrown nail will depend on if it is infected or not. If it is, the podiatrist may organise antibiotics. While this will settle the infection, it will not fix the problem as the bit of ingrown nail that is causing the problem is still there. A skilled Podiatrist can easily remove the corner or spike of the edge of the nail that has penetrated the skin and is causing the problem. Often with relatively little discomfort. Unless that problem piece of nail that is causing the ingrown toenail is removed, the infection is likely to persist and the problem will still be there. After this, proper wound care and the use of dressings is needed to help get the infection under control. If the pain persists after this first treatment, this may be due to there being another spike of nail deeper down causing the symptoms.
When the ingrown nail is severe, or if conservative care is difficult, or if the ingrown toenail keep returning then a minor surgical intervention is a often recommended by the podiatrist. The minor surgery is usually a relatively simple procedure and is very successful for long term relief that is permanent. There are a number of different minor surgical procedures that can be used by a Podiatrist for this with almost all of these being done under local anaesthetic. The most common procedure is the removal of a portion of the nail down the side of the nail that is causing the problem. However, after a nail or part of the nail is removed, it will grow back as the growing cells at the base of the nail are still there. Most commonly an acid is used to destroy the growing cells to prevent regrowth of the piece of nail that is removed. There are other options to prevent the nail from growing back which include surgically debriding the growing area or using a laser. For some unknown reason a few percent can reoccur. Generally, after the ingrown nail surgery you will need to keep your foot elevated for a few hours and rest is advisable. The following day, you should be able to return to work or school. The podiatrist will typically advise you not to take part in vigorous activities, such as running for up to 2 weeks after the surgery. The use of an open toe shoe is often helpful. This ensures that there is no pressure on the area to interfere with healing.
If you have an ingrown toenail or are prone to them, then it would be a good idea to get advice from a podiatrist as to what your best options are to treat and prevent it.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.