We Have Your Permanent Solution For Ingrown Toenails
If you’ve felt that sharp, throbbing pain from an ingrown toenail a couple of times now, then this is for you. Today we’ll be sharing a common scenario we see in our clinic (this might be you!) and how we work to alleviate your pain - with the goal of stopping your ingrown toenail coming back once and for all.
It’s the same story...
There’s a very common scenario that our Podiatrists see on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. It’s a patient that comes in in pain, usually in thongs, sometimes one jogger and one thong if it’s winter.
We look down to see their red, swollen toe that often has signs of clear or yellow discharge - or even blood. We know straight away - it’s as painful as it looks and they’ve likely had it for a while. Sometimes it has been a week or two - and other times it has been months that they’ve spent *hoping* it’ll go away on its own - or trying to cut it back themselves with no avail.
Sometimes it’s the same on both toes - most of the time it’s just the one. Sometimes they’ve sought advice from a family member or a professional that has told them to have an Epsom salt bath. Other times, they’ve just been trying to avoid as much pressure on it as possible. Either way - it’s a very painful situation to be in - and one that they don’t want to be in again.
The easiest way for us to illustrate this is with a 15-year-old boy - let’s call him Joseph. Joseph has had a recurring ingrown toenail for a couple of years now - on and off. We see many Joseph’s that fall into this pattern - because they tend to pick off their nails instead of using nail scissors to cut them cleanly off.
When the top of the nails is ‘picked’ or ‘torn’ off instead of cleanly cut across, they often leave little spicules down the sides of the nails. While this isn’t a problem initially, it quickly becomes a problem as the nail grows out and the little spicule pierces the surrounding skin - and turns into a painful ingrown toenail.
As the nail pierces through, the surrounding skin swells and reddens - and all of a sudden that spike is difficult to access and get to without the right tools - and a great deal of pain is had when Joseph tries.
So Joseph comes in for some nail care…
When we meet Joseph for the first time and find out that it’s his first ingrown toenail, we usually start with our conservative treatment. We use the term conservative because the other option is a minor nail surgery. So while it’s an excellent, reliable treatment - it’s just more conservative compared to the small surgery we can perform from the comfort of your treatment chair (more on that below!).
During this conservative treatment, we trim back the nail and remove the nail spicule from the skin so that it can begin to heal, and the swelling can go down. Most people feel an instant relief at this point from no longer having the sharp nail edge penetrate the skin. It’s over quickly, and if you’re super worried, we even have anaesthetic available (though rarely use it!).
Joseph heads home feeling much better after we teach him the right way to cut and care for his toenails, and over the next few days, the toe slowly returns to its pain-free self.
And then… again?!
Unfortunately, 3 - 6 months later, we often see Joseph again. The ingrown toenail has returned. Very often it’s because the nail was ‘picked at’ again. Sometimes, it may be the footwear or the shape of the nail that has caused it to return. Either way, it’s becoming an ongoing problem and both Joseph and his parents don’t want him to return every 3 - 6 months to keep managing it. It’s usually at this point, after explaining the procedure and the other options, that the decision is made to perform a partial nail avulsion (PNA).
Partial nail avulsion - permanent ingrown toenail correction
During a partial nail avulsion, we remove a small portion of the edge of the nail that continues to grow in and cause you pain. It’s performed in our clinic under local anaesthetic. The total ‘surgical’ time is usually no more than 20 minutes, and the appointment time is no more than an hour.
After we remove the small portion of the nail, we apply a chemical that actually destroys the nail-growing cells. This means that the nail in that small section of nail won’t continue to grow! We estimate the effectiveness to be about 4 in 5 patients. We monitor you throughout your recovery, which takes from 2 - 8 weeks for complete healing. Don’t worry - you usually don’t need to take any time off work except for the afternoon after the procedure, and we provide you with everything you need to care for your toe after the procedure.
To read a case study about this procedure and the results - click here.
Are you Joseph?
If Joseph sounds like you or one of your family members, then we’ve got you covered. You don’t need to be 15 years old either - we help everyone from young kids to busy mums to older adults safely and effectively manage their ingrown toenails.