Ingrown toenails can be sore and painful. Having one can interfere with daily activities and cause discomfort when wearing socks and shoes.
Ingrown toenails can often resolve on their own by using conservative treatments. When ingrown toenails are reoccurring or become infected, however, surgery may be needed to resolve the problem. Surgery for ingrown toenails can be done in a podiatrist’s office and requires little to no recovery time.
Ingrown Toenail Symptoms
The first sign of an ingrown toenail is tenderness in the toe when wearing shoes or socks. It may hurt when pressure is applied to the toe. Wearing socks and shoes can be uncomfortable due to the pressure placed on the toe. In addition, you may notice the following:
Surgical Options for Ingrown Toenails
For some, an ingrown toenail may resolve on its own or it can be treated using conservative methods such as topical antibiotic cream, foot soaks, or gently lifting the corner of the nail that has grown into the skin on the side of the toe. If these methods do not provide relief or the ingrown toenail keeps coming back, a visit to the podiatrist can help you determine the best way to proceed.
Those who are diabetic are at a higher risk for infection from an ingrown toenail due to poor circulation or nerve damage. Diabetics need to be cautious of ingrown toenails. Since the toenails can become infected, this can cause complications such as spreading of the infection to the underlying bone, gangrene, or amputation.
At your appointment, a podiatrist will examine the toenail and determine treatment based on your specific condition. In cases where the ingrown toenail is infected or is reoccurring, surgery is recommended. Surgery for an ingrown toenail can be done in a podiatrist’s office using a local anesthetic to numb the toe.
Surgery may consist of the following:
- Partial toenail removal. Removing the corner or edge of the nail that has grown into the skin.
- Nail bed removal. Removing a portion of the nail bed to prevent the regrowth of the toenail in that area. This is recommended for ingrown toenails that are chronic and recurring.
- Entire toenail removal. Removing the entire toenail to prevent reoccurrence.
For most people, only a portion of the toenail is removed. This keeps the toenail looking natural and is often undetected in appearance.
What to Expect After Surgery
Ingrown toenail surgery can resolve pain and infection from the condition. It should provide immediate relief and the recovery is typically quick. After the procedure, the toe will be bandaged and you will be able to walk out of the office. Depending on what foot was operated on, you may not be able to drive if your toe is numb and you cannot feel the pedals.
Ingrown toenail surgery after-care consists of the following:
- Elevating the foot
- Taking an anti-inflammatory to help reduce swelling or pain
- Taking an antibiotic to treat any infection
- Resuming normal activities, as tolerated
Your podiatrist may schedule a follow-up appointment to check on how your toe is healing. Healing completely from ingrown toenail surgery typically takes two to four weeks.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are often a genetic condition that cannot be prevented. There are some ways to reduce your risk of developing one. Some steps to take are:
- Trim your toenails straight across and keep the edges rounded.
- Don’t wear shoes that are tight in the toes and add extra pressure.
- Avoid trauma to the toes when playing sports or other activities by wearing protective shoes that fit properly.
- See a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem to prevent infection.
Contact a Podiatrist for Help
If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, contact Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry. We offer a free initial consultation and can recommend the best treatment for your specific condition. To schedule an appointment, fill out our contact form online or call our office at 301-515-FEET.