Ingrown toenails are due to the penetration of the edges of the nail plate into the soft tissue of the toe. It begins with a painful irritation that often becomes infected.
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- Trauma to the nail or toe, which can occur by stubbing the toenail, dropping things on the toe or wearing a shoe that is too short, can all contribute to the likelihood of suffering from the condition.
- Conservative treatment begins with either not wearing shoes or wearing shoes that fit the shape of the foot and are flat.
- Soaking with warm water and Epsom salts can also bring some relief, but a severe ingrown toenail might require surgery to remove part of the nail.
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- An ingrown toenail is a painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of nail bed or the softs skin bordering the nail.
- This condition has been found only in shoe-wearing cultures and does not occur in habitually barefoot people.
- Bad nail care, including cutting the nail too short or rounding off the nail so that it is shorter than the flesh around it, can contribute to the condition.
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With bacterial invasion, the nail margin becomes red and swollen often demonstrating drainage or pus. In people who have diabetes or poor circulation this relatively minor problem can be become quite severe. In this instance a simple ingrown toenail can result in gangrene of the toe. These patients should seek medical attention at the earliest sign of an ingrown toenail. There are several causes of ingrown toenails: a hereditary tendency to form ingrown toenails, improperly cutting the toenails either too short or cutting into the side of the nail and ill-fitting shoes can cause them. Children will often develop ingrown toenails as a result of pealing or tearing their toenails off instead of trimming them with a nail clipper. Once an ingrown toenail starts, they will often reoccur. Many people perform “bathroom” surgery to cut the nail margin out only to have it reoccur months later as the nail grows out.
All ingrown nail procedures can be performed under local anesthesia if there are no contraindications such as allergy. A fast-acting local anesthetic such as xylocaine 1% or 2% is often used, is very tolerable, and any feeling in this area will be slight.
Partial Chemical Matrixectomy
This is performed on patients with CHRONIC ingrown nails or patients who are predisposed to reoccurring ingrown nails. A similar procedure to this is called an incision and drainage; it is also performed on infected ingrown nails. The major difference between the two procedures is the angle that the nail plate is cut and the use of chemical to eliminate the cells that are growing the portion of the nail that is painful.
The procedure should not take more than five minutes and should be completely painless. A portion of your nail will be cut and a Q-tip is inserted with a chemical to eliminate some of the nail growth cells. Alcohol will be used to flush out any remaining chemical, and your toe will be dressed with a sterile bandage.
You will be given home care and soaking instructions, medication, and perhaps an antibiotic. A follow up appointment should be made within the week. The wound will look red and could drain a clear fluid for up to five weeks.
Post Op Tips
- Use a blow dryer at night on the wound to facilitate drying
- Ask for Corti-sporin drops and use them daily.
- If drainage stops after 1-2 days and feels tender, lightly massage with clean hands to stimulate drainage
- Use a large Band-Aid that covers the great toe during the day, remove at night after to first few days to facilitate drying the wound.
- Do not use occlusive ointments; they will block the drainage ports which need to be open.