November 29, 2015
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Ingrown Toenail (cont.)

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When should someone seek medical treatment for an ingrown toenail?

People with diabetes or those who have a compromised immune system or poor circulation should promptly seek the care of a podiatrist/physician for ingrown toenail treatment. If home remedies are not successful within a week or there is persistent pain and/or signs of infection, podiatric medical treatment is recommended. Symptoms and signs of infection can include

  • swelling,
  • redness,
  • streaking,
  • pain,
  • mal-odor,
  • drainage that may be yellow, green, or white and purulent (containing pus).

What kind of doctor treats ingrown toenails?

Although many types of doctors, including family physicians, pediatricians, urgent-care walk-in physicians, and dermatologists, can treat ingrown toenails, podiatrists are uniquely qualified among the medical professionals to treat this condition.

What is the treatment for ingrown toenails?

There are various types of treatments, including self-care, soaking, avoidance of shoe pressure on the toenails, proper methods to trim the nails, and various surgical treatments. Sometimes antibiotics may be required.

What types of nail surgery are used for ingrown toenails?

Surgical treatments include the following: temporary resection and removal of the offending nail border or corner, avulsion (detachment) of the nail or offending nail border, or permanent elimination of the nail (matrixectomy) or offending nail border (partial matrixectomy). A matrixectomy is the destruction or removal the cells where the nail grows from called the nail matrix. The nail matrix is at the base of the toenail under the skin. This procedure can be done surgically by dissection, chemically, or electrically by destroying part or all of the matrix cells. These procedures are commonly reserved for chronic or recurrent situations.

What does the recovery from toenail surgery entail?

Typically the dressings are removed the day following the procedure. Cleansing of the wound or soaks in Epsom salts and/or anti-microbial soap followed by application of an antibacterial cream and small bandage (Band-Aid) twice a day for one to two weeks can help to prevent infection. Open toe or loose-fitting, wide toe box shoes are recommended to avoid pressure to the toe while healing.

What is the appearance of the nail after surgery?

If a permanent resection of the nail was performed (matrixectomy), the nail will appear narrower by a few millimeters on the affected nail border. If the nail matrix is not removed or cauterized, then the nail should re-row to its original appearance and width.

Is surgery really necessary?

If conservative treatments fail, surgery to remove the offending nail border is recommended. If the condition is recurrent and/or chronic, a matrixectomy may be recommended.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015


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