Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails can become very painful.

Not only that, but they usually will carry a nasty infection which, if untreated, can spread to other tissues, the blood stream, or in worst cases, the bone.

that’s why it is so important to take ingrown toenails seriously and not to think of them as just a pest.

As Podiatrists we treat the cause of the problem so that it can fully settle down.

Using Antibiotics is usually not necessary (this needs professional assessment), unless the infection has become severe.

By removing the offending piece of jagged nail down the side of the toe we are able to allow the tissue to settle down and return to normal.

If ingrown toenails keep recurring, we’ll often recommend that part of the nail is surgically removed, this is a minor procedure that we can do in clinic.

An infected ingrown toenail

The Right Tools

A beaver handle with a 61 blade in

It takes the right tools to do the job well.

Podiatrists are the only practitioners who use a “beaver blade” to remove the jagged piece of nail. 

This is like a tiny chisel and allows us to remove nail from the side of the toe with minimal pain and or bleeding.

Obviously these tools are only useful in very experienced hands.

Our podiatrists gain four years of experience in foot related conditions at University and treat ingrown toenails every week.

Treating the cause

The main reason that ingrown toenails will hurt is because they are infected, the tissue swells, and this causes pressure and pain.

The irritation leads to hyper-granulation – which mean that new cells are generated and grow out from the irritated area.

The increase in pressure from pus and blood cells sent to fight the infection lead to pressure with redness and pain.

It is nearly always started by a jagged piece of nail.

This piece of nail may become jagged by stubbing the toe, kicking a football, or from faulty cutting technique.

As you probably know, it is best to cut nails almost straight across, don’t cut down the sides at all.

often people will cut down the sides, thinking that they have got all of the nail, but they usually leave a small jagged area.

 

A severely infected ingrown toenail with arrows pointing to the redness, the proud flesh and the swelling

This jagged piece of nail cuts the skin from the normal pressure of wearing shoes and then lets bacteria in.

Many bacteria live in our footwear, our environment, and on our skin.

All these little beasts need is a portal of entry, and they’re in. They quickly multiply and then our bodies go into overdrive to kill them.

This defence mechanism is what really causes most of the swelling, as well as pus from the bacteria and from white blood cells as well.

Antibiotics typically allow the toe to settle down for about a week, but if the cause (jagged nail) is not treated, then you will be back to a new infection and painful nail very soon.

By actually removing the offending piece of nail, the skin can heal and the area will settle down naturally.

We Are Sensitive To Your Needs

Everyone will react to something like an ingrown nail differently.

Some people say, “Just rip it out, I want it gone!” Whilst some people will be very anxious about having anything done to their toe which might hurt.

We understand this and work with you to make sure we choose the right plan of action.

We want you to be happy and healthy and part of that is feeling good about what’s going to happen when you come in.

So we are very happy to talk about options for treatment which suit you better.

Be sure to mention to your podiatrist if you have any concerns about treatment of your ingrown toenail.

A patient talking to a Podiatrist about her ingrown toenail.

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