PHONE: 248-922-6000

FAX: 248-922-5997

 
Town Center Foot & Ankle

6510 Town Center Dr. Suite C Clarkston, MI 48346

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INGROWN TOENAIL (ONYCHROCRYPTOSIS)

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
An ingrown nail occurs when a portion of a toenail on either side of the toe turns downward and presses into the skin.  Nails normally are nearly flat, with just a slight arcing downward at the borders.  When the border of the nail is turned downward, it begins to injure the skin.

HOW DOES IT FEEL?
Patient’s usually feel pressure and eventually pain, as the hard and sharp nail edge creates further injury.  Shoes that apply pressure to the toe increase the pain.  If an infection develops, the pain becomes intolerable.

LET’S DO A TEST!
An ingrown nail is identified by the doctor’s physical exam.  If an infection has developed, the doctor may send a sample of the drainage to a lab, to identify what bacteria has caused the infection and which antibiotics will most easily cure the infection.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Wearing narrow or pointed shoes can apply enough pressure to a normal nail to turn the nail edge downward.  Once the nail matrix, the tissue where the nail grows from, gets injured in this way, it continues to produce a nail edge that is more vertical than horizontal.  From this abnormal nail growth, the nail edge applies mild pressure on the skin over a long period of time.  The skin at the nail edge thickens and becomes hardened.  You may begin to notice an enlargement or swelling of the skin around the nail edge.  The condition can progress as a result of the other factors.  These factors include: pressure from tight or pointed shoe, injury such as stubbing a toe, excessive wetness, either from perspiration or application of ointments or creams, or improper cutting of nails.  The skin at the nail edge becomes reddened and swollen.  You may notice drainage or pus from the area and the pain becomes intolerable.

WHAT WILL MY DOCTOR DO FOR IT?
In the minor cases, the podiatrist will simply cut the nail to shorten it, and show you how to cut the nail in the future, to prevent ingrowing of the nail again.  In more sever cases, but not those in which an infection hasn’t developed, the podiatrist may gently remove the ingrown portion of the nail.  This affords considerable relief, but it is temporary.  In cases where the nail has grown in repeatedly, or more critically, when the nail edge has penetrated the skin and caused an infection, the podiatrist will perform a minor procedure called an Ingrown Nail Correction Matricectomy.  The podiatrist will gently numb you tow, reshape the nail edge and finally, apply a medicine, which will, in most cases, permanently prevent the nail edge from growing improperly again.

CAN I PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?
Cutting toenails properly goes a long way toward the prevention of ingrown nails.  Cut the nails STRAIGHT ACROSS, so that the nail corner is visible.  If you cut the nail too short so that the nail corner is not visible, you are inviting the nail corner to grow into the skin.  It is the natural tendency, when the edge of the nail starts to grow in, to cut down at an angle at the nail edge, to relieve the pain.  This DOES relieve the pain TEMPORARILY, but it also starts the downward spiral, training the nail to become more and more ingrown.  The edge becomes more and more ingrown, until the skin makes and infection.  So, cut the nails STRAIGHT ACROSS and never have an ingrown nail again.

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