It all started with a mild pain, an ache at one of your toes. Perhaps it was both toes. A little time has passed and it’s now worse. Your toe is red on the side of the nail. It looks a little, or a lot, swollen. Wearing shoes can be difficult because of the pain which feels like a sharp, stabbing pain. The toe throbs. It might have a bit of yellow exudate – meaning it’s infected. It might be bleeding a little. Even the touch of a bedsheet can cause lots of pain. You thought it’d get better and go away but it hasn’t. If anything, it’s getting worse. But why? And what can you do to finally get rid of ingrown toenails? Here’s everything you need to know!
Firstly, if the above sounds like you, don’t worry. You are definitely not alone. We see hundreds of patients each year that ignore ingrown toenails, or try to manage them themselves, that just lead to the toenails becoming very sore, painful and swollen. It’s largely because it is thought that the ingrown toenail will just ‘go away’ on its own, just like when you get a cut and at first it’s sore, but then it heals.
Unfortunately, having an ingrown toenail means that part of your continuously growing nail has pierced and penetrated the skin at the side of the nail. So, instead of getting better, the nail will continue to grow into the skin and cause you pain until you remove the offending nail edge and the skin can heal.
Ingrown toenails occur for a number of reasons, including:
While wearing a one-off pair of shoes that cramp the toes and push the nail into the skin may result in a one-off ingrown toenail, most of the time ingrown toenails we recur if the cause is a genetic predisposition or the behaviour that causes the ingrown toenail is regular (like curving the nails when you cut them, picking at the nails, wearing the same narrow shoes regularly). If the cause doesn’t change, then the result of the painful ingrown toenail won’t change.
There are three avenues of treatment when it comes to ingrown toenails:
Conservative care is for your one-off of first-time ingrown toenails where to goal is to relieve your pain by removing that painful nail edge from the skin. This is done simply and effectively in our clinic by our podiatrists. It usually does not require anaesthetic, and you’ll be able to feel a noticeable difference in your pain immediately (though the swelling may take some time afterwards to reduce and the skin will need to heal for complete resolution). While conservative care is effective, it does not work to discourage or reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails occurring again in the future, hence we do not recommend it if you’ve already had multiple ingrown toenails previously.
Nail bracing is a new system that we’ve just recently started offering here at Sole Motion. We love it because it’s painless, doesn’t require surgery, is simple and effective. It’s fantastic for kids too! It uses a very small brace on the nail to eliminate pain and help correct the curvature of the nail. By correcting the curvature of the nail, you’re helping reduce the likelihood of ingrown toenails in the future.
Permanent treatment for ingrown toenails is done through a procedure called a Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA). A PNA is performed in our clinic by our Podiatrists within an hour, and your toe is anaesthetised so no pain or discomfort is felt. The small offending portion of the side of the nail is removed, and a chemical is used to destroy the nail-growing cells at the base of the nail. The toe is then dressed and takes approximately 4-8 weeks to completely heal, though any pain or discomfort following the procedure is usually very minor. We love this procedure because you are no longer able to grow new nail in the small portion of the side of the problem nail – meaning they’re gone for good and no more ingrown toenails in the future! We highly recommend this for patients who have already had multiple ingrown toenails that are just likely to continue to cause you pain and problems in the future.
Ingrown toenails can affect kids just as much as adults – though kids may not be as good as discerning the cause of the pain! If your child starts complaining of toe pain (any of the toes – not just the big toe), we recommend checking for the possibility of an ingrown toenail. We’ve removed ingrown toenails from kids that are just a couple of years old!
If you’ve been struggling with ingrown toenails and are after a permanent solution to stop them from coming back for good, give our expert team at Sole Motion Podiatry a call! We’ll discuss any problems you’re having as well as the concerns you have for your feet and together can make the best treatment plan for your feet. You can give us a call on 1300-FX-FEET or book online here.