In-Growing Toe Nails

The job of the nail is to protect the terminal phalanx of the toe (the end bone) and as such nails bear the brunt of daily activities. Walking, running, wearing shoes or participating in sports are just a few of the stresses and strains the feet much endure. All or a portion of the nail plate can be damaged when the feet are injured or abused.

Nail problems are commonly caused by improper cutting, minor injuries or repeated traumas.

Proper nail care on a regular basis and the wearing of well fitted shoes can keep the toe nails in good condition.

Symptoms of In-Growing Toe Nails

The symptoms of an ingrown nail are usually redness, swelling and infection and the toe is very painful. Toe injuries that change the contour of the nail can also lead to an ingrown toe nail. Toe deformities such as a bunion that forces the big toe to lean toward the second toe, high-heeled, narrow or pointed shoes can put pressure between the nail and soft tissue thus forcing the nail to grow into the skin.

An ingrown nail occurs when the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. Redness, pain and swelling at the corner of the nail may result and infection may soon follow. Sometimes a small amount of pus can be seen draining from the area.

Ingrown nails can also be accompanied by other toe disorders such as excess aurrounding tissues (hypergranular tissue) or an outgrowth of bone beneath the nail (exostosis).

Treatment of In-Growing Toe Nails

If excessive inflammation, swelling, pain and discharge are present, the toenail is probably infected and should be treated by a physician. You may need to take oral antibiotics and the nail may need to be partially or completely removed.

If the ingrown nail problem is severe the use of minor surgery to remove all or part of the nail, underlying nail bed, adjacent soft tissues and even a part of the growth centre is recommended. Sometimes a chemical called phenol is used during surgery. In most instances only the portion of the nail that is ingrowing is removed and is mainly carried out under local anaesthetic.

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Mr. Brian Cohen
MD FRCS (Tr&Orth)
Mr. Jig Patel
MB BS FRCS (Tr&Orth)
Mr. Rohit Madhav
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Mr. R. Lloyd Williams
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Mr. Sean Curry
MB BS FRCS (Tr&Orth)