An ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) is a common condition that can cause pain, inflammation, and even infection. It occurs when the nail starts to grow inwards into the skin at the side of the nail bed. Treatment for an ingrown toenail may range from simple at-home remedies to more advanced treatments such as antibiotics or surgery.
WHAT IS AN INGROWN TOENAIL?
An ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) occurs when a nail grows into the flesh to the side of the nail causing pain, inflammation, redness and sometimes infection if left untreated. If you have pain or tenderness around one or both sides of your nail, swelling, redness, pus, or discharge coming from the site, you may have an ingrown nail.
Ingrown toenails are often caused by incorrect nail cutting, which leaves either a a nail spike (spicule) or sharp corner of the nail that eventually grows into the skin. This can also be the result of trauma, genetic predisposition to have excessively curved (involuted) toenails, taking certain medications, playing sports that involve kicking a ball, and wrongly fitted footwear.
TREATMENT FOR INGROWN TOENAILS
Treatment involves a thorough assessment determining the cause of the ingrown toenails. Conservative therapy typically involves removing the nail segment and re-shaping the nail plate. This option is successful in some less serious cases, but if the ingrown nails are chronic, the offending nail fragment is semi permanently or permanently removed in a simple surgical procedure conducted under local anaesthetic in sterile environment.
Your gait (the way you walk) can also contribute to the growth of ingrown nails. For example, if you tend to use the side of your big toe to push your foot off the ground, it generally results in nails which curve inward, which increases the risk of ingrown nails.
TREATMENT FOR FUNGAL NAILS/THICKENED/YELLOW NAILS
A fungal/thickened or misshapen nail is a be surgically removed to promote new regrowth of a healthy nail from the nail bed. It takes 9-12 months to fully regrow a toe nail, however, we can optimise the appearance of your toe while its growing out. We use a system that restores the appearance of the natural nail by using a flexible resin that mimics the cosmetic appearance of a natural nail. This new nail is unaffected by acetone, nail polishes or detergents.
INITIAL APPOINTMENT – ASSESSMENT
An initial assessment is essential before any nail surgery appointment can be scheduled. The podiatrist will diagnose your ingrown toenail and take a detailed medical history to find out if you are suitable for ingrown toenail surgery. They will then explain the procedure in depth, quote you on associated costs and schedule your nail surgery appointment of you choose to proceed.
NAIL SURGERY – PROCEDURE
On the day of the procedure it is a “walk in and walk out” surgery, performed in our Foot HQ clinical rooms by one of our highly trained podiatrists. Generally a nail surgery can take anywhere between 45-60mins depending on the number of nails being treated.
Under local anaesthetic, a sliver or whole toe nail is removed. The nail bed is then treated with a chemical that will prevent the nail from growing back. The toe is cleaned and appropriately dressed with antiseptic to minimise post-op infection.
You will be required to have someone to drive you home from the procedure. You should also bring in some open toed sandals or thongs for this appointment as you will have a bulky dressing on the toe post surgery. Please also feel free to bring in music, headphones or anything else that helps you relax.
Your podiatrist will schedule you a redressing appointment 2 days following surgery. Between the surgery and your first re-dressing appointment you will be asked to minimise physical activity, rest and elevate your foot. As well as this we will ask of you to not shower until your first re-dressing appointment. At this first re-dressing appointment the podiatrist will check the healing progress of your toe. A second redressing appointment is usually scheduled 2 – 4 weeks post surgery.
Redressing appointments are an important aspect of the treatment plan. It is vital that you attend these appointments with your podiatrist to minimise infection and to ensure the surgical site is healing. Failing to attend can lead to serious complications.
HEALING & REGROWTH
Most patients find they can resume most sporting activities after 2 weeks, whilst full healing of your toe takes approximately 6 – 8 weeks. There is a small risk of small chemical burns on the skin around the site of the surgery, however, these usually heal fully over time. Please speak to Foot HQ staff if you have any concerns or questions during recovery.
At Foot HQ the nail surgery is a very effective procedure which many patients opt in for, however a small % of people will experience some nail regrowth. In this case, a revision surgery will be scheduled for you at no extra cost.
If you are interested in an Ingrown Toenail Treatment or want to discuss if it is right for you, call us on (02) 8520 8818 to talk to one of our friendly podiatrists.