One of the most common conditions seen in a podiatrist's office is the ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail is a condition in which a side of the toenail grows into the flesh. This can be a painful condition, both with and without pressure to the area. If ignored, the toenail border can penetrate the skin, causing a bacterial infection.
Ingrown toenails are mostly a hereditary condition. The toenail generally follows the shape of the bone beneath it. Ingrown toenails can also be caused by improper cutting of the toenails. The condition may be exacerbated by wearing tight shoes.
Soaking the area, followed by dressing changes, may temporarily slow the progression, but ultimately, the ingrown portion of the toenail must be cut out. This should be done by a podiatrist. If there is an infection, local anesthesia may be needed.
If the problem becomes recurrent, a permanent removal of the ingrown part of the toenail can be achieved by a simple office procedure. A chemical is used to destroy the cells that make only that part of the toenail grow. No sutures are needed. Normal skin soon fills the area and there is an acceptable cosmetic result.
Some Tips for Preventing Ingrown Toenails:
1) Always cut toenails straight across or along the contour of the toenail
2) Do not dig into the ingrown toenail or perform "bathroom surgery"
3) Avoid tight restrictive footwear.
If you have an ingrown toenail, seek attention as soon as you can. They tend to get worse as time goes by!
Evan Kelner DPM