Ah, ingrown toenails. It never ceases to amaze our patients when we remove an ingrown piece of nail, how such a small piece of nail can cause such immense pain – not to mention the swelling, redness and often infection that follows when left untreated.
As one of our top five most common conditions we see and treat daily at My FootDr, here’s information about ingrown toenails, why they may be recurring, and how you can today resolve this problematic nail – permanently.
Is my big toe pain caused by an ingrown toenail?
If you’re wondering if your big toe pain is from an ingrown toenail or something else, read on. As the name implies, an ingrown toenail occurs when part of the nail breaks through the skin that surrounds the nail and grows into it as the nail grows naturally.
Once the nail pierces the skin, the side of the big toe usually swells, is red and painful to the touch. The swelling actually results in the problematic bit of nail sliding deeper into the skin while creating less room inside shoes and socks, so wearing narrow shoes is often quite painful when pressing on the inflamed toe.
Sometimes, discharge or blood may also ooze from the toe where the nail has punctured the skin. If an infection develops, this discharge may be white, yellow or green in colour – and may smell unpleasant.
Fingernail ingrowth can affect one or both sides of either nail, but the toes are most commonly affected. They do not discriminate between age or gender and anyone can be affected.
Why do some ingrown toenails recur?
Understanding why some ingrown toenails “come back” or why multiple toes may be affected starts with understanding the possible causes of ingrown toenails:
1. Poor nail cutting technique
Nails should always be cut in a straight line. If toenails are curved deeply to the sides, this can encourage ingrown toenails.
2. “Tearing” the nails
If you have a tendency to pull on your nails instead of using nail clippers to leave a clean, smooth line, you may unknowingly leave small nail nubs on the sides of your nail – often in a place you can’t see or notice right away. Even if it doesn’t cause pain right away, as the nail grows, the nail tip can penetrate and grow into the skin. If you keep picking at your nails and leaving sharp or jagged edges, they can regularly grow back to your feet. This pattern is most commonly seen in school-age children.
3. Tight or narrow shoes
If you wear ill-fitting shoes, specifically those that press on the toe and cause the skin to press into the nail, you put yourself at greater risk for ingrown toenails. This is because the nail does not have enough room to grow normally, so it is more likely to rub against the skin and dig into it.
4. Family history
It may simply be the shape of your toenails. We all have variations in nail shape and some are more “pointed” or curved than others. Therefore, you may be more prone to ingrown toenails – and the same may be true for members of your family.
How can I fix my ingrown toenail – today?
Let’s start by addressing a common misconception: that simply soaking a toenail in salt water and leaving it alone will eventually lead to it fixing itself. When you think about why your toenail hurts in the first place – from a piece of nail that got into your skin – you’ll understand why salt water is not a suitable or effective solution. We encounter many ingrown toenails that have been left for weeks without success, while their owner struggles with the pain of wearing shoes and perhaps can’t even tolerate the pressure from the sheet.</p
Mending ingrown toenails starts with removing the problematic, penetrating edge of the nail – and not leaving pins or pieces of them. Safe, quick and easy removal of these spicules is one of our specialties at My FootDr – and requires no anesthesia – unless you want it! It is a simple process that is done in your treatment chair, and you will feel immediate relief – although you may have some residual tenderness from the swelling until it settles and heals. Once the nail is removed, the skin can heal and your finger can return to its original pain-free state.
How can I prevent it from coming back in the future?
Since our goal is not only to cure the problem, but also to help prevent you from dealing with it again in the future, we also offer permanent correction of ingrown toenails. This is done through a procedure we call partial nail avulsion at the clinic.
With partial nail avulsion, we start by removing a small section on the side of the nail that tends to grow in. Don’t worry – your finger is completely numb after anesthesia! We then apply a chemical to destroy the cells growing into the nail in this small section of the nail. Therefore, this edge of the nail will not regrow. You will still maintain a fairly normal appearance of the nail – one side of the nail will just look straight and slightly shorter.
The benefits of this procedure are:
- Permanent correction of the problem
- Painless course of the whole procedure
- Minimal or no postoperative pain
- No stitches required
- Quick healing
The success rate of this procedure is over 90%, making it a proven and successful option for dealing with stubborn or recurrent ingrown nails.
Are you ready to have your ingrown toenail treated?
We make treating ingrown toenails simple and easy – and chances are, we can see you the same day! To book an appointment, call us at 1800 FOOT DR or book online here.