By Dr. Kim L. Dao

As summer comes to a close, and we transition from sandals to closed-toe shoes, it’s good habit to remember that foot health is still important whether your feet are visible or not. Ingrown toenails are a common podiatric problem, most typically affecting the big toes.

Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of the nails protrude and grow into the surrounding skin, resulting in irritation, redness, and in some instances, infection. Infections can sometimes be cleared up temporarily by aggressively clipping the offending side, sometimes in conjunction with a topical or oral antibiotic. However, as the nail edge grows back, there is a likely chance of recurrence of the condition. At the early stage of irritation, which may eventually lead to infection, the ingrown nail edge has essentially become a foreign body that does not belong in the toe.

If met with recurrence of this issue, there are more aggressive options that can be performed by a podiatrist in the office setting. The offending nail border may be removed after numbing your affected toe. The removal is more invasive than your typical nail trim, in that the nail border is removed entirely back past the cuticle line. This procedure is called an avulsion. The procedure can end at this point, at which the patient waits for the nail to re-grow in a manner that does not protrude into the skin. An avulsion procedure can also be made permanent, in which after the removal of the offending nail border, application of the acid, Phenol, into the nail bed and root is performed. This permanent avulsion procedure is known as a matrixectomy. Either of these procedures usually take approximately 2 weeks to heal, though the healing timeline may vary patient to patient.

If you have questions or concerns regarding treatment of your painful ingrown nails, a discussion with one of our podiatrists is a great place to start to see what treatment makes sense for you. Happy, healthy, and pain-free feet should be experienced year-round!

Give us a call at 512-447-4122 to get relief from your painful ingrown toenails!