Ingrown Toenails

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It seems as though many people have been complaining of ingrown toenails. I want to share how I fixed mine. I came home from a run and felt the inside of my right big toe was especially painful. I had recently trimmed it back and slanted the edge. This is a picture of what it looked like.

My award for going on a run with an ingrown nail. (notice the redness)

Ingrown toenails are known as Onychocryptosis. This is one of the most common problems podiatrists come across and treat in our offices. It can be caused by trauma to the cells that grow the nail causing the nail to grow and incurvate into the bordering skin. This is a common problem after stubbing or dropping an object on your toe. Simply cutting your nails too short can also lead to a nail growing into the skin. Some recurrent ingrown nails are from deformities of the fingers/toes that come from birth. Inherently short and wide finger/toe nails are known to be prone to recurrent painful incurvations. Lesson: Beyonce can keep the curves…let your toenails stay straight and flat.

For the most part, ingrown toenails can be resolved by pushing back the tissue around the nail. For the novice this can be dangerous as this leads to the biggest problems with ingrown toenails-INFECTIONS! Often times the over ambitious “bathroom surgeon” can cram a dirty object too deep into the pocket by the nail, creating a tract for bacteria to nestle in. This leads to the even more painful and dangerous infected ingrown toenail (paronychia). The ingrown nail causes the body to respond with inflammation to the area. Excess stagnant fluid in the area is a hot bed for infection. These infections are easily resolved with drainage and oral antibiotics.

Paronychia (Infected Ingrown Toenail)

If ingrown toenails become a burden, your friendly local podiatrist can relieve the pain almost immediately. It’s one of the more satisfying things we can do (much better than gangrene). A procedure can be done to numb the toe with a quick injection. Then a very narrow sliver of the offending border is removed, and voila! As long as no current infection is present, a second procedure is offered to permanently stop the growth of that portion of the nail. This is reserved for those with chronic ingrown nails or chronic fungal toenails (see fungal nail blog).

As always, never self diagnose and always follow up with your doctor.

Below are the pictures of my self injection of anesthetic before digging it out with cleaned nail nippers (don’t try this at home, I am a professional)


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