Ingrown nail is a common condition, which is otherwise known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus. The affected nail grows into the nail bed, on one or both sides of the nail. This condition may develop in the nails of the hands as well as the feet, but is commonly found to affect the toenails.
Usually, damaged nail edges cut into the skin of the nail beds and grow inwards. This condition may also happen if the nail does not fit properly into the groves on the sides. In such cases, it digs into the nail beds, causing inflammation and redness of the area, along with pain. In some cases, nail edges get embedded in the side tissues. As compared to kids, ingrown toenails are more common in adults, especially men. Ingrown nails are mostly found in people with big toes. Wearing ill-fitting shoes and improper trimming of nails are the most common causes for this condition.
Apart from symptoms, like swelling, redness, pain, and drainage; an ingrown nail may also result in infection and abscess, making the situation worse. The treatment for this condition varies with its severity. While mild cases can be treated at home, serious ones require medical attention and even surgical removal of the nail.
Home care is sufficient to treat the condition, if it is in the initial stages. In that case, all you need to do is to soak the affected area in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts, twice daily. Pat dry the nail and apply an over-the-counter antiseptic. Gradually, the nail will grow out and the nail bed will heal. Avoid wearing shoes or any type of closed footwear, till the nail bed heals completely. If there is drainage, or if the wound is deeper, it is better to seek medical attention. A podiatrist is the right person to address your problem.
Removal of Ingrown Toenail
If there is no other symptom, like drainage or inflammation, you may try to remove the ingrown toenail, at home. Soak your foot in a solution of warm water and Betadine. After 15 minutes, wipe the foot and insert a nail clipper under the nail border. Cut the visible part of the ingrown nail, near the nail bed. Gently pull the outer edge of that piece of nail, so that the whole piece (including the embedded part) comes out. Now, soak the foot in Betadine solution for another 20 minutes. Repeat this for two to three days. Home care is limited to mild cases only, and severe cases need medical attention.
The podiatrist can easily remove the ingrown part of the nail. If it is a painful condition, he may remove it under local anesthesia. Once the ingrown part of the nail is removed, the area is covered with an antiseptic wrapping, which has to be kept intact for two to three days. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed for some people, especially for diabetics and people with blood circulation problems.
Severe cases of ingrown nails need surgical treatment that involves removal of a part of the nail or the entire toenail. This is mostly done in case of infection, where the abscess has to be drained out.
Before the surgery, the person will be given a tetanus shot. After that, a local anesthetic is injected at the point where the toe meets the foot. This is followed by removal of the extra tissues around the ingrown toenail, and the infection is drained out. The ingrown part of the nail is removed, so that the infected area heals properly.
The podiatrist may also remove a part of the affected nail bed, or destroy the cells in the nail bed. This can be done using chemicals or laser. The cells are destroyed to prevent recurrence of the condition. The toe will be covered with an antiseptic dressing and antibiotics are given to the patient. This process of partial ingrown toenail removal is called ' wedge resection'. The nail will regrow after some time.
In extreme cases, the whole nail of the affected toe is removed (nail avulsion), to prevent recurrence of the condition. This process is less complex than wedge resection, and takes less than ten minutes to perform. In this case, the nail will grow back and worsen the condition. So, the nail matrix is coated with some chemical (like phenol), so that the nail never grows back. This method is called complete nail avulsion.
Ingrown toenail removal cost depends on the type of procedure. Aftercare includes avoiding tight and closed footwear or footwear with high heels. You must avoid cutting the nails too short, or rounding the corners of the nails. It is said that quitting smoking may prove beneficial for preventing the recurrence of this condition. Above all, good nail care is always advisable.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.