Ingrown Toenails are one of the more common reasons that patients will visit a podiatrist. Ingrown nails can become very painful, and left untreated, can lead to severe infections. Ingrown nails are common in children, but also occur with high frequency in adults.
An ingrown nail occurs when the corner of the nail grows into the skin, eventually creating an small open sore. As the nail continues to grow deeper into the skin, inflammation and pain increases. The longer the ingrown nail is present, and subsequent open wound, the higher the likelihood of sustaining a bacterial infection.
Common Causes of Ingrown Nails:
- Heredity - Some people are just born with nails that are either too flat or too curved. Both can lead to ingrown nails.
- Improper Trimming - Trimming the nail too short, or down into the corner can leave behind a small spike that will eventually become ingrown.
- Trauma - Injury to the toenail can cause the nail to thicken and/or change shape, increasing the chance of ingrowns.
- Fungal nail infection - Much like trauma, fungal nail infections can change the shape of the nail.
- Tight shoes or stockings - This can squeeze the toes together, pressing the skin into the corner of the nail.
Treatment of Ingrown Nails involves removing the portion of nail that is digging into the skin. This is done through a same-day in-office procedure. In some cases, this can be performed pain free by gently snipping back the corner of the nail. In most cases, a small amount of local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is placed in the toe, so the removal portion of the procedure is pain-free. After a small portion of the nail is removed, a chemical may be used to try and keep the ingrown nail from recurring. These "Permanent Ingrown Procedures" have a greater than 90% success rate, although success rates are lower when more severe infections are present. Complications after the procedure are rare, and pain relief begins immediately.
Antibiotic medication can help treat an infection of the area, but removing the offending nail border is necessary to allow the open wound to heal, eliminating the chance for infection. In some infections, oral antibiotic medication will be prescribed at the time of of the in-office procedure.
Nail Trimming Tips:
- Do not trim your nails too short. There should be a small remainder of white nail plate at the tip of the nail.
- Trim your nails straight across. Do not round off the corners.
- Trim your nails after bath or shower. The nails are more pliable at this time, and less likely to split.
If you are suffering from an Ingrown Toenail, call us at 512-593-2949 or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment. We can help eliminate your pain today!