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Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown is a painful condition that occurs when the nail is unable to grow due to obstruction by soft tissue surrounding the sides of the nail.

What are the symptoms?

An obvious symptom to look out for is when part of the nail may pierce the skin, allowing for infection of the tissues resulting in a red, hot, swollen toe and heightened sensation.

In some cases, it can exceed this and develop a jelly-like substance called hyper-granulation tissue that has formed as part of an inflammatory response to the infection. Hyper-granulation tissue is highly vascularised, so if knocked, it is likely to bleed and cause further discomfort.

Causes:

Some people may be pre-disposed to the condition due to the shape of the nail that may be hereditary. Poor or incorrect cutting/tearing of the nail can be the cause and trauma, as well as jarring of the toe on a football/rugby boot when kicking a ball which can also trigger this condition. Alongside other unsuitable footwear or ill-fitting shoes. Some people have thickened nails or particularly larger nail shapes, meaning that the nail is larger comparatively with the toe, or surrounding tissue of the nail border; which can contribute to the inception of this condition.

Who’s at risks?

Anyone can be subjected to an ingrown toenail at any point in their lifespan. Like most foot problems, if left untreated, an ingrown toenail can result in some serious complications such as infection, which can spread beyond your feet. In severe cases, gangrene may become a concern when the tissue begins to decay away.

Treatment:

If noticed early on, an ingrown toenail can be treated or made to be more comfortable for the individual by following a few self-care tips. This includes soaking your feet in warm, salt-based water, placing cotton wool underneath and around the sides of the nail to lift it above the skin edge and prevent the nail from pressing into the sides of the skin, applying a bandage or extra protection to the toe and of course, choosing sensible footwear.

If home remedies have not resolved this condition, our Podiatrists will go through all treatment options we offer. For those who have involuted nails (nails with a very defined curvature to the nail bed), and who have not experienced an infection; we can usually train the nails to grow in the correct way with regular Podiatry care and nail cutting.

For those who have experienced painful, infected toenails, or extreme discomfort; Nail Avulsion (Nail Surgery) is the best permanent resolution. Both PNA (partial nail avulsion) and TNA (total nail avulsion) can be recommended, depending on the severity of the infection. Nail surgery involves removing part of, or total removal of, the nail that is in growing at the sulcus. Local Anesthetic is used to assist with the procedure and Phenol is applied after the nail has been removed to prevent regrowth. This however is optional and at the discretion of the Podiatrists advice.

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