Ouch! Ingrown Toenails

Many patients come into the office with painful toenails that grow into the side of the skin. The pressure from the nail causes pain. Redness and swelling in the area are dead giveaways. It is very common to have ingrown nails in the big toes but it can also occur in the little toes too. When patients come seeking medical care for ingrown nails, the solution is very simple. Depending on the severity of the pain we can easily remove a wedge of the nail that is piercing the skin. This will provide temporary relief and will be the treatment of choice for many. Since the nail grows slowly at a rate of 0.1mm per day, many will choose to have frequent visits to their podiatrist to take care of the ingrown nail.

The problem with ingrown nails is when care is delayed and the skin becomes infected. Whenever there is a break in the skin, bacteria can crawl into that space and cause an uncomfortable infection. If there is some yellow colored discharge coming from the site of the ingrown nail that is how you know it is infected. Some people will experience multiple infections every few months when the nail grows back into the skin. One way to solve this problem is to remove the wedge of nail. Removing the source of the problem, the nail, should be sufficient to allow the infection to go away in a few days. Also, soaking the feet into salt water will help with the drainage too. This is often recommended when patients have had permanent nail removal. The salt soak will also help with the healing process. 

If ingrown nails are especially bothersome and are chronic, permanent nail removal is an option. There are many ways to permanently remove the nail, either partial removal of the border or complete removal of the entire toenail. This procedure can be performed in the office allowing you to go about your day afterwards. However, it is important to discuss with your podiatrist what technique they are using and the rate of recurrence, as it does happen on occasion. You may be pleased to know that the majority of permanent nail removal will alleviate your toenail pain without any complications. 

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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