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  • Writer's picturePasadena Orthopedics, Inc.

Ingrown Toenail (Permanent/Non Permanent)

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Did you know there is a permanent solution to ingrown toenails so that you never have to deal with them again? Call 626-517-0022 to discuss further.

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown into the skin instead of over it. This usually happens to the big toe, but it can also happen to other toes. An ingrown toenail can get infected. It may be painful, red, and swollen, and it may sometimes drain pus. (See a picture of an ingrown toenail)

Anyone can get an ingrown toenail, but adults get them more than children do. People who have curved or thick nails are more likely to get an ingrown toenail. This is more common in older adults.

What causes an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown toenail can have a number of different causes. Cutting your toenail too short or rounding the edge of the nail can cause it to grow into the skin. Wearing shoes or socks that don't fit well can also cause an ingrown toenail. If your shoes are too tight, such as a dress type shoe that is narrow at the front, might press the nail into the toe and cause it to grow into the skin.

You can get an ingrown toenail if you hurt your toe, such as stubbing it. This can cause the nail to grow inward. Repeating an activity that injuries the nail, such as kicking a soccer ball, can also cause an ingrown nail.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of an ingrown toenail is the pain from the nail growing into the skin instead of over it. If the ingrown toenail gets infected, it might be swollen or red, and it might drain pus. The area around the ingrown toenail is often painful.

How is an ingrown toenail diagnosed?

Dr. Shirazi will do a physical exam to diagnose an ingrown toenail. She will examine your toe where the nail has grown into the skin.

How is it treated?

Make an appointment ASAP as treatment is often more simple before the irritation or infection worsens. You may reach our office at 626-517-0022. In some cases, you may need antibiotics. Call Dr. Shirazi if your toe is red, warm, swollen, or drains pus, or if there are red streaks leading from your toe.

Do not use a sharp object like manicure scissors to dig under your nail, because this will worsen infection.

Wear comfortable shoes with a wide toe box, or sandals, that do not press on your toe.

If your toenail is very ingrown, your doctor might suggest a minor in office procedure to remove all or part of the ingrown nail.

During this procedure, Dr. Shirazi will numb your toe. Then she will cut the edge of the ingrown toenail and pull out the piece of nail. To prevent the nail from ever growing into the skin again, ask Dr. Shirazi about the permanent procedure option. She may take an extra pain-free step to destroy all or part of the nail root, if you are a good candidate. This is called a matrixectomy. If Dr. Shirazi removes all or part of your nail but does not destroy the root, it will begin to grow back within a few months.

After the minor procedure, it is important to take care of your toe so that it can heal. Our office will give you specific instructions to follow.

How can ingrown toenails be prevented?

You may be able to prevent ingrown toenails by wearing roomy and comfortable shoes and socks that do not press on your toes. If you work in a place where your toe might get hurt, wear sturdy shoes such as steel-toed boots to protect your toes.

Be sure to trim your toenails properly. You can do this by cutting your toenail straight across, not curved. Make sure you do not cut your toenail too short. You can also leave your toenail a little longer at the corners to help it grow over the skin.

If you have had a permanent nail avulsion, there is a 2-3% chance the nail may return. This is typically resolved with one more treatment.

If you have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation) talk with Dr. Shirazi before you trim your own toenails. People with diabetes have a hard time feeling their toes and might cut themselves without realizing it. Peripheral arterial disease can cause toes to be very painful.

The benefits of a Ingrown Toenail Treatment (Partial or Total Nail Avulsion) include:

  • The procedure is done simply in-clinic

  • The total appointment time typically doesn’t exceed 10-20 minutes

  • The procedure is performed under local anesthetic (lidocaine) so it is pain-free

  • You do not need to take any additional time off work/school following the procedure and can go home immediately

  • You do not need any special boots or braces while the toe heals

  • The procedure causes little post-procedure discomfort, however Tylenol can be taken should discomfort arise

  • We dress your toe, provide you with a take-home dressing pack and re-dressing instructions. If you need a sandal, we will provide one for you.

  • We monitor your progress to ensure it is healing well.

Also, be sure to ask our office about how we can help you and your loved ones trim your toenails on a bi-monthly basis. This is often covered by insurance.

Call Pasadena Orthopedics Inc. at 626-517-0022.

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