Ingrown toenails usually occur on either side of your big toe and can be very painful. The sites will usually become red and swollen and may even become infected. Pressure from footwear or bed sheets can be incredibly painful. But why do toenails ingrow?
Causes of Ingrown toenails
The most common causes of ingrown toenails include poor cutting technique, trauma to your toe or an incurvated toenail shape which is often inherited. Correct cutting techniques will vary for different shaped toenails. In an ideal world you would trim your toenails straight across the top and not too short. However, this isn’t appropriate for everyone. An incurvated toenail that is ingrowing will need to be trimmed not only across the top but also down the sides to prevent them from ‘naturally’ growing into the skin along the sides of the nails.
If your toenail has suffered a trauma in the past – you may have stubbed it or rubbed it raw during extended exercise, the natural shape of your toe nail will change and may start to ingrow. In these cases you should visit our podiatrist who can trim and re-shape your toenail so that it grows comfortably and correctly. Our podiatrist will show you how to trim your nails to avoid further problems.
For those of you who have inherited incurvated toenails, your nails may naturally be too wide for your toe and so will continually grow into the skin on the sides of your toes. You may not get a toenail infection but your toe will be sore. You may even develop a corn underneath the nail which can be extremely painful. Your medical practitioner may advise you to take antibiotics to control any swelling that may be caused by an infection in your toe. But if your toenails are the wrong shape, antibiotics alone will not lead to a permanent cure.
Treatment for ingrown toenails
At Melbourne Podiatrist the effective ingrown toenail treatment options available to you include having your toenails professionally trimmed and cared for at regular intervals or you can have the offending section of nail permanently removed during a simple surgical procedure. you can either visit a podiatrist every few months to have your toe nails trimmed correctly, or you can opt for a more permanent solution to your problem, corrective nail surgery.
Corrective Nail Surgery
Nail surgery is a minor surgical procedure which our podiatrists perform regularly under local anaesthesia in our consulting rooms. Nail surgery becomes necessary when an ingrown toenail causes your toe to repeatedly become infected, is continually painful and it is painful to wear shoes.
A partial nail avulsion, known as a PNA, is a procedure which aims to permanently correct the tendency for a toenail to ingrow. This procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic via an injection into the toe. It takes approximately one hour. Our podiatrist will remove the offending nail spike, reshape your toenail to avoid future problems and destroy the base of the offending area of nail. After your procedure a thick surgical dressing will be applied. You will be able to walk afterwards but we do recommend that you have someone drive you home. Our podiatrist will explain the post operative care of your toe including re-dressing for the next 4 to 6 weeks.
The objective of nail surgery is to permanently remove the portion of nail that is cutting into the surrounding soft tissue of your toe so that the offending section of nail does not regrow. The specific nature of the surgery will depend on the severity of the ingrown toenail. All aspects of the surgery will be explained to you by our podiatrist. Regular podiatry visits can help to manage and prevent ingrown toenails.
If you would like more information on how to treat ingrown toenails in Melbourne, please contact our Brunswick or our Sandringham Foot Clinics for more information.