Ingrown Toenails

What is an Ingrown Toe-Nail?

One of the most common complaints that a podiatrist sees in their office on a day-to-day basis is ingrown toe-nails. An ingrown toe-nail typically arises with incorrect nail-cutting technique (i.e. rounding off the corners of the nail) and this subsequently makes the edge of the nail more prone to growing and impinging in the nail folds causing immense pain and discomfort. It can also occur with trauma or tight-fitting shoes which squeezes the nail plate and forces the edges into the adjacent nail fold. This can sometimes be correlated with infection and cause a paronychia which is a local cellulitis and infection of the medial or lateral nail fold. Unless properly addressed by a podiatrist, infection can set in and worsen in a very short period of time.

Treatment

  • Partial nail avulsion without chemical matrixectomy—This is otherwise known as “temporary” removal of the involved nail plate. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic in the office. The involved nail border is removed without disturbing the nail matrix; this is typically done in presence of infection as the chemical used in permanent procedures (i.e. phenol) is not affective in an acidic environment that is typically seen in infection. The nail border will eventually grow back and it may possibly become ingrown again in the future.
  • Partial nail avulsion with chemical matrixectomy—The same nail removal procedure described above is performed, however a powerful and potent chemical known as phenol is introduced into the nail matrix in order to permanently destroy the cells which allow for nail-growth. The remaining nail plate may appear thinner depending on how much of the ingrown is removed.

Your surgeon will determine which procedure is best for you depending on clinical findings. In any case, patients are generally back in normal shoes full activity within 2 weeks of the procedure.