What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin. The nail curls and pierces the skin, which becomes red, swollen and tender. The toe may also be painful when pressure is placed on it. The big toe is most likely to be affected, either on one or on both sides.
What are ingrown toenail symptoms?
Ingrown toenails may be painful and worsen in stages. Symptoms may include:
- The skin next to your toenail becomes tender, swollen or hard
- Pain when pressure is applied on your toe
- Fluid building up around the toe
- Oozing pus
What are the possible treatment options for ingrowing toenails?
Dr Cooper will do a physical examination of your toenail and the surrounding skin. Depending on the condition of your toe, the surgeon may recommend one of the following:
- Partial nail avulsion:
Partial nail avulsion is a procedure where Dr Cooper will trim or remove part of your toenail. This is the most common surgical procedure for treating ingrown toenails and is generally very effective. The edges of the toenail are cut away to make the toenail narrower and give the nail a straight edge. This makes it less likely to dig into the surrounding skin. After the edges of the toenail have been cut, the surgeon will apply a chemical called phenol to the nailbed. This prevents the nail from growing back and stops an ingrown toenail reoccurring in the future.
- Total nail avulsion:
Total nail avulsion involves removing the whole of the toenail to reduce the risk of an ingrown toenail developing in the future. Dr Cooper may recommend this procedure in selected cases.
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove your toenail and once again apply phenol to the nail bed to prevent nail regrowth. You will be left with the indentation (the concave area of skin) where the toenail used to be. It is perfectly safe not to have a toenail, and the toe will continue to function normally.