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An Ingrowing Toe Nail occurs when the nail penetrates the skin at the side of the nail plate (sulcus). This causes a wound (or foreign body reaction) that can become infected. In some instances this results in extra tissue forming (hypergranulation tissue.) This tissue has a very good blood supply and can bleed very easily.
What causes ingrown toe nails ?
Often, they are due to the shape of the nail plate. Some people have wide nail plates, others curved nail plates which means the nail cannot grow free at the sides. This makes cutting the sides of the nail very difficult and often results in the nail being pulled at this point. If a spike of nail is left this can cause a small tear in the skin and a wound is formed with an infection likely to follow. Trauma to the nail plate or swelling of the surrounding skin can also cause an infection resulting in an ingrowing toe nail.
Will it get worse ?
The infection and swelling generally gets worse if untreated.
Common symptoms include: Pain, Swelling, Bleeding/Weeping, Foul Odour, Difficulty in Wearing Footwear and Difficulty in Walking.
How is it treated ?
A surgical procedure called a nail resection, is performed by the podiatrist. This involves removing a slice or the complete nail removal under local anaesthetic, and a chemical called phenol applied to the nail bed to completely destroys the cells which produce the nail which embeds into the side of the skin.
Post Operatively we ask patients to relax for the day following the surgery, taking analgesic medication whenever required, keeping the dressing dry, and return to the surgery for dressings every 3-4 day for the following 2-3 weeks until healing has taken place. Advice will be given on a individual basis, with the majority of patients discharged after 3-4 weeks post-surgery with advice and emergency telephone number if questions or appointment re-arrangement is required.