Ingrowing toenails are one of the most common problems we treat in the office. Patients get ingrowing toenails at all ages, and if they are not treated appropriately, they can lead to severe infections and pain.
Ingrowing toenails occur for several different reasons. In younger children we see them occur when the nail is growing either wider than typical or too curved and the nail gets pushed into the skin on the side of the toenail. Shoes that are too small and push the skin edge into the toenail can also be a cause of this especially in children.
In adults we also see this develop, and it can be because of the nail growing more curved over time, but we also see this commonly occur after trauma that changes the way the toenail grows.
Ingrowing toenails pinch the skin on the side of the toe, and in the initial stages is typically painful and will start to get slightly red. If it is untreated, it will typically become more painful and more red, and it can also become infected.
Home treatment for this includes soaking the toes for 5-10 minutes twice daily with warm water and Epsom salt. After you do this, it is important to massage the skin edge away from the toenail to try and decompress the area. Some people recommend trying to place cotton underneath the skin edge, but this is risky, because it can lead to worsening infection, so we do not typically recommend this.
Ingrowing toenails are a very treatable problem, and it is amazing how many patients we see who do not realize we have a fix for this. One way to treat this is with a procedure called a temporary nail avulsion, where we remove either a portion of the toenail or the entire toenail temporarily and let it grow back.
The biggest problem with doing a procedure like that is that the ingrowing toenail typically returns again once the nail has regrown. The most common procedure we do for ingrowing toenails is called a matrixectomy. This involves removing the side of the toenail that is ingrown and then after this is completed, we use a chemical called phenol which destroys the nail cells that grow the nail at the base of the toenail. The largest benefit of this procedure is that the corner of the toenail should not grow back and ever give an ingrowing toenail again. There is approximately a 5% chance of recurrence of nail growth when we do this procedure, so it is not completely perfect, but statistically it works very well for patients to not have to go through the pain associated with an ingrowing toenail again.
These procedures are done in our office under local anesthesia and most patients tell us after the procedure that it was not nearly as painful or bad as what they were expecting.
If you are suffering from any foot and ankle pain at all, it is not normal, and it is important to treat this before it gets worse. Call your expert Colorado Springs podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons today at 719-488-4664 if there is any way we can help you!