Onychocryptosis, commonly known as ingrown toe nails, is a common nail condition. It is an often painful condition in which the nail digs into or grows into one or both sides of the nail groove or sulci.

While ingrown nails can occur in the hands, they occur most commonly with toenails.


Technically an ingrown toenail occurs when a spicule of the nail penetrates the skin which results in an infection. But often the nail doesn’t penetrate the skin but causes a build up of callus or a corn down the groove of the nail. This condition can be exacerbated by poor nail cutting or highly incurvated nails.

Causes include:

  • Poor nail cutting. Cutting the nail too short, rounded off at the tip or peeled or picked off at the edges …
  • Bad-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too short can cause pressure at the end of the toes. Shoes that are too narrow can cause the toes to bunch squeezing them together, resulting in one toe to curl and dig into the skin of the neighbouring toe.
  • Trauma to the nail where the nail is forced into the skin. Or damage to the toenail can cause the nail to grow irregularly and press into the flesh.
  • Genetic predisposition, ie inherited from your parents, ie highly incurvated nails, abnormally shaped nail beds, nail deformities caused by diseases, and a susceptibility to nail problems can cause a tendency for nails to ingrow.
  • Circulation. Very poor circulation can result in thick incurvated or distorted nails, which is common in the elderly.

Prevention

Ingrown nails can be avoided by cutting nails straight across; nails should not be cut along a curve, nor should they be cut too short. In both cases, the important thing to avoid is cutting the nail shorter than the flesh around it.

Your podiatrist can show you the best of cutting your toe nails ..

Podiatrists treat the problem by first trying to address the cause and then decide on the options available. This may involve cutting out the afflicting spicule or painful edge of the nail and retrain the nail to grow forward of the nail grove,(sulci).

Some people benefit from regular nail care to reduce nail discomfort, particularly those with corns under the nails.
A lot of the time ingrown toenails come from shoe pressure, i.e. short shoes. So it is important to assess people’s footwear to help resolve ongoing problems.

Sometimes it is difficult to assess and treat the condition yourself, so it is beneficial to get professional advice from a Podiatrist.

Ingrown toe nail surgery can be a very successful option if required.
When conservative care fails to give sufficient relief surgical removal of the nail edge is considered.

A small portion of the nail is permanently removed whilst under local anesthetic.

The growth plate of the nail is then sterilized using a chemical to destroy that portion of the nail.

The nail operation takes approximately 1 hour, after which your foot is massaged to help the blood flow return to normal. This aids healing and reduces the likelihood of any discomfort after the anesthetic wears off. In most cases there is minimal discomfort felt with the nail after the first day. It is suggested the patient reduce their activities to a minimum during the first one or two days, to reduce likelihood of discomfort.

The operation is then followed up with several visits to ensure healing of the area. A list of instructions to take care of the nail is given after the first review to ensure the patient helps in the healing process. It is expected that the area will completely heal within 4 to 6 weeks after the operation. The skin cavity where the old nail previously resided reforms to the new edge of the nail.

Following is a testimonial of one of Walter’s patients who recently had an ingrown toenail operation;

‘I had previously been to Dr’s and another Podiatrist for treatment of my ingrown toenail, which I have had for years. But my toenail continued to ingrow despite their efforts. I was also traumatized by the previous surgeries and local anathesthetic injections into my toe. Walter however was very professional and was able to inject my toe with very little pain. I had no pain of my toe over night and after the surgery. His expert removal of my toenail edges has resulted in no more problems. i am very happy to recommend him to all I meet.’

Charlie, Qld

Summary:

Ingrown Toe NailsIngrown Toenail

Ingrown toenails are a common problem in both older and younger people. They often result from trauma to the nail i.e.; kicking your toe, pressure from a tight shoe, or dropping an object on the toe. They can also result from poor nail cutting technique or peeling off one’s nails instead of cutting them.

Highly incurvated nails can also result from a genetic inheritance, or poor circulation causing the nails to become distorted, which is common in elderly patients.

For whatever reason for an ingrown toe nail it is certainly a very painful experience and the nail can become acutely infected.

Prevention is best, and a visit to a podiatrist will determine the best possible treatment for your condition.

Firstly by addressing the cause and then deciding on the options available. This may involve cutting out the edge of the nail and retraining the nail to grow forward of the nail grove,(sulci).

Some people benefit from regular nail care to reduce nail discomfort, particularly those with corns under the nails.

It is important to assess people’s footwear to help resolve ongoing problems.

Ingrown toe nail surgery can be a very successful option if conservative care fails to give sufficient relief.

To make an appointment for any of the above conditions, please call us… or send an enquiry e-mail

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