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Ingrown Toenail Treatment

By: Corinne Gehegan, DPM

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition whereby the nail pinches the skin. Although any nail may be affected, the great toe is the most commonly involved. The nail has the potential to actually pierce the skin which allows bacteria to enter and cause a localized infection. This medical term for this condition is paronychia.

ingrown toenails develop for several reasons. Some individuals naturally have curved nails. Others have conditions which change the shape of the nail such as a local fungal infection or a health condition that results in nail changes. On the other hand, many ingrown toenails are preventable. Cutting the nails too short or attempting to cut an ingrown toenail with inappropriate instruments or instruments that are not sterile are two causes of ingrown toenails and/or paronychias. Shoes that do not fit properly or regular use of shoes that are pointy can result in this condition (among other foot ailments).

An ingrown toenail/paronychia may be accompanied by a pyogenic granuloma. A pyogenic granuloma is a lesion that develops on the skin fold into which the nail has grown. It is red, raised, and bleeds quite easily. Pyogenic granulomas can occur anywhere and are the result of a piercing or penetrating injury.

There are different degrees to which an ingrown toenail may be managed. This is dependent on the history of the ingrown toenail, the extent of the problem, and your general health status. Many times a procedure performed under local anesthesia in the office is warranted. This is known as a partial nail avulsion. The offending border of the nail is removed. Your podiatrist can discuss the option of permanently removing the nail border if the condition is recurring. This is an additional step performed after the border is removed to cauterize (destroy) the portion of the nail root from which the nail border grows. There is almost no down time and many patients do not take anything more than Tylenol or Advil for a day or two. The portion that is permanently destroyed is minimal and barely noticeable if at all.
Article written by Dr. Corinne Gehegan

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