Painful ingrown nails may be congenital, caused by a curvature of the nail, or an imbalance between the width of the nail plate and the nail bed. Toe injuries that change the nail’s contour also can lead to an ingrown toenail. Narrow shoes and foot deformities (such as a bunion that forces the big toe to lean toward the second toe) can put pressure between the nail and soft tissues, eventually forcing the nail to grow into the skin.
Redness, swelling and infection make the toe very painful. Ingrown nails can be accompanied by other toe disorders, such as excess surrounding tissue or an outgrowth of bone beneath the nail.
Treatments for the Ingrown Nail
Surgery is commonly necessary to ease the pain and remove the offending nail. Often, only a small portion of the nail needs to be removed, however, if the entire nail is affected the entire toenail and matrix (the cells that grow the nail) may be completely removed.
Surgical Treatments for Nail Disorders
If the problem is severe or chronic, surgery to remove all or a portion of the nail may be recommended. Most surgeries are performed very comfortably under local anesthesia, and require less than one hour at our office.
Partial Nail Removal
For some cases of ingrown nails, only the portion of nail that is growing into the skin is removed. If both sides of the nail are ingrown, they may be removed during one procedure. After the affected portion of nail (one-eighth to one-quarter inch) is taken, the nail root and matrix are then destroyed by a medicine called phenol.
Permanent Nail Removal
Complete removal of the toenail is a common remedy for painful fungal infections and severely ingrown nails. During this procedure, the nail plate is removed and the nail matrix is destroyed.
Care After Surgery
Most people experience very little pain immediately following nail surgery, and during the healing process, which lasts approximately two to three weeks. If bone has been removed during surgery, a longer healing process should be anticipated.
Total Nail Removal/Partial Nail Removal
Dr. Fisher will advise that the toe be soaked once or twice daily for several weeks. Some amount of drainage is normal when the nail has been removed.