The what, why, when and ways of ingrowing toenails
An ingrowing toenail is when the nail grows round and down into the flesh of your toe. A spike of the toenail will form at the edges, sometimes if only a few extra millimetres of the nail, but it causes many problems.
Ingrowing toenails are really painful; they can make it hard to walk as you can feel the nail pushing into your toe; they can also make it difficult to sleep as the weight of the duvet hurts your toe.
They can happen for many reasons:
- Genetics. Have you parents had ingrowing toenail? There is a chance that you will suffer with them as well.
- Bad nail cutting technique. If you trim (or bite! or pick!) your toenails incorrectly, then you will be causing the nail to grow around the sides. Make sure you trim straight across the nail and don’t go too short.
- Injury. Dropping something on your toe or stubbing your toe can cause damage to the bed of your nail. The nail grows from the nail bed, and if it’s injured, the nail might grow the wrong way.
- Too small footwear. Your toes will repeatedly bump into the front of shoes that are too small, causing injury to the nail bed.
At first, you won’t have too many problems from an ingrowing toenail, but as the nail continues to grow and pushes into the skin, the pain will increase. The worst-case scenario is when the spike of the nail actually grows through the top of the toe. When people leave their ingrowing toenails, eventually, they will pick up an infection, with causes swelling, soreness and pus.
For long term (the majority of the time, permanent) relief from ingrown toenails, the best treatment is surgery. It’s not a dramatic as it sounds; it’s just a 45 minutes appointment in my clinic. It’s called surgery as it involves a local anaesthetic but it’s a procedure that I have carried out for many years, several times a month.
You won’t feel a thing during the surgery; it’s quick and easy. Your responsibility comes afterwards; you need to rest your foot for a few days and take it easy for a few weeks, allowing time for healing. I will give you instructions on how to care for your toe; these include when to change the dressing and how to keep it clean.
You will need open-toed shoes with you as the dressing is nice and padded; it will not fit in regular shoes.
If left untreated, an ingrowing toenail infection can start to affect the bones in your toes and cause more problems.
This treatment is an investment, no more pain from your toes, no more being embarrassed, an ugly toe and pain-free sleep.
Contact me anytime if you have questions about ingrowing toenail surgery; I’m happy to chat through it with you. Many people get anxious at the thought of anaesthetic and surgery, but I take it slowly and either explain what I’m doing or pop some music on and chat about something else.