Ingrown nails are a very common annoyance for many people. Ingrown nails are painful nails where the corners or sides of the nail has put pressure on or penetrated into the skin. When this happens often infection called paronychia will result. Paronychia develops over a few hours when the nail becomes painful, red and swollen. Yellow pus may appear under the cuticle. If infection is present, it is extremely important to see a podiatrist to treat the underlying infection and to remove the offending nail portion.
Ingrown toenails causes:
Most frequently, the doctors see ingrown nails caused by one of several reasons. The nails have been cut improperly too much into the corner by the patient or possibly a pedicurist. This improper cutting of the nail leaves a piece that when the nail plate continues to grow over the next several weeks, it leaves a piece that can penetrate into the skin and cause the ingrown nail. An additional cause frequently seen is improper shoegear. Not only the use of pointy toe shoes, but many times we have found that our patients are wearing the wrong size shoe. This improper size puts extra pressure on the corners of the first toenail especially and can cause it to become an ingrown nail. Proper shoe sizing can be determined by evaluation in our office.
What is the treatment for an ingrown nail?
When a patient comes in with a complaints of a painful toenail, the first thing is a full evaluation of their foot health to make sure that there are no other factors, such as nerve damage, or poor circulation, or bony deformity that may be adding to the cause of the painful nail. Once the nail has been properly evaluated, it can be treated to relieve pain immediately. If infection is present, more involved treatment including possible antibiotic soaks, or oral medication may be prescribed. These nail problems are relieved painlessly through gentle professional care. Sometimes permanent removal of a painful corner may be neccessary, this is painlessly done in the office with local anesthesia. The procedure involves removing the ingrown piece of nail back to the nail growth center which is treated so that the nail will not grow back. There is no significant disability or time from work with this procedure.
What can be done to prevent ingrown toenails?
Toenails should always be trimmed straight across and should be left slightly longer than the end of the toe. Avoid treatment with a pedicurist who insists on cleaning or cutting the corners of your nail. This is potentially hazardous and they are not licensed to be doing this kind of care. As mentioned previously, wearing the proper shoe size with the proper toe box height and width is important as well.
Many times people who have thickened nails from old injuries, or from possibly a fungal infection called onychomycosis (see FUNGAL NAILS section under “What We Treat”) can develop pain in her nails. These nails very rarely become ingrown and it is simply the thick nail causing pressure and pain on the nailbed and sides. By simply reducing the thickness of the nail, we can painlessly resolve the problem in one visit in most cases.
If you think you have an ingrown nail, contact us at the office so you can be seen immediately to schedule an appointment. If you are in pain or think you have an ingrown toenail feel free to come to Dr. Theall’s office, Gentle Touch Foot Care for a full comprehensive and thorough evaluation to discuss your foot health.
For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).