Ingrown toenail, also known as onychocryptosis, is a common condition that can affect an individual regardless of his or her age or health. It may occur on the left or right side of the nail, or even sometimes on both sides!
Ingrown toenails may occur from improper trimming of the nail, where there is a sharp edge on either corner of the nail. This condition can also occur from how the nail is growing. One example is pincer nail, where there is an over curvature of the nail on both sides. As one can imagine, the over curvature of the nail can cause pain in both corners of the nail by pinching into the soft tissue below it.
The symptoms of the affected corner may only initially be pain with pressure or in shoe gear. However, if left untreated, it may become inflamed and the affected corner may turn red and swell. At its worst, it could result in a localized infection with purulence, which is a milky-colored discharge.
If you find yourself in this situation, you should see a podiatrist. A simple visit can alleviate your pain and put you back on your feet!
There are various treatment options for an ingrown toenail, such as nail avulsion, chemical matrixectomy, and laser ablation.
A nail avulsion is a procedure that is performed in the office. The affected toe will be numbed and a small sliver of the affected border will be removed. The nail is removed from the far tip of the toe to the matrix, which is where the nail grows. After the procedure, the toe will be wrapped up. You can even shower and get that toe wet later that night. With this procedure, the nail will grow back.
Chemical matrixectomy is a procedure that is similar to nail avulsion, as it is also performed in the office. The only difference is that a chemical called phenol is applied to the nail matrix. This chemical creates a burn that is similar to a third degree burn. The goal of this procedure is to prevent the nail from growing back.
Unlike nail avulsion and chemical matrixectomy, laser ablation is a procedure that is performed in the operating room. This procedure involves surgically removing the nail matrix of the involved border. A laser is then used to destroy the nail matrix of the offending border. Similar to chemical matrixectomy, the nail will not grow back.