“My ingrown toenail is so painful that I can’t touch it. Even when my bed sheet touches it, I am in complete agony."
An ingrown toenail is where a piece of nail pierces the flesh of the toe. It can feel as if you have a splinter, be extremely painful and inflamed or infected. In more severe cases, it can cause pus and bleeding. Ingrown toenails most commonly affect the big toenail but can affect the other toes too. A nail that is curling (involuted or convoluted) into the flesh, but isn’t piercing the skin, isn’t an ingrown toenail, but can also feel very painful, as well as appear red and inflamed.
Active, sporty people are particularly prone, because they sweat more. Younger people are more likely to get it (as they pick their nails more, compared to older people who may not be able to reach their toes!).
The most common symptom is pain followed by inflammation in the surrounding nail area.
However, not everyone identifies an ingrown toenail correctly. Sometimes they have a curly nail which has a lot of debris (dirt or fluff) underneath it, or a corn or callus down the side of the nail, which can be nearly as painful. However, if it is a corn, the pain tends to be throbbing as opposed to the sharp pain you get with an ingrown toenail. If this is the case, your Podiatrist will remove the debris, and if necessary, thin the nail.
Not usually, unless you have an existing condition such as Diabetes, poor circulation or a reduced immune system. However, if left untreated, infection can develop in the rest of the toe and foot, and in very rare cases could get into the blood stream. The quicker you deal with it, the less painful the treatment will be.
Before you are seen by a Podiatrist, you can relieve the discomfort by bathing your foot in a salty foot bath, which helps to prevent infection and reduces inflammation. Then apply a clean sterile dressing, especially if you have any discharge, and rest your foot as much as possible.
How a Podiatrist will treat you will depend largely on the severity of your condition:
Depending on the severity of your ingrown toenail, the Podiatrist maybe able to offer you an ingrown toenail brace. This is a non-surgical solution and pulls the nail up as it grows, in order to give you relief. This option works well in retraining the nail to grow straight. It is a great option for patients who cannot have nail surgery for medical reasons or are too afraid to have it.
Nail Surgery is a very minor surgical procedure where the Podiatrist will remove a section of your nail. In some cases, the full nail needs to be removed. This is usually followed up with the application of a chemical called Phenol. This destroys the nail matrix (where the nail grows from) so that the nail does not grow back.
Nail Surgery itself is not painful because the Podiatrist will give you a Local Anaesthetic before starting the procedure. Therefore, your toe will be numb for the duration of the procedure and usually for approximately one hour following the completion of your Nail Surgery.
As nail surgery is carried out using a Local Anaesthetic, rather than a General Anaesthetic, there are very few risks associated with having this procedure done.
Below are some points that you need to be aware of before having the nail surgery. The Podiatrist will be happy to discuss any of them in more detail at your request.
We usually recommend that you take 4 days off work. The first day is for the nail surgery. Although the nail surgery only takes approximately one hour to complete, we advise that you take the rest of the day off so that you can go home and put your feet up. In the following two days, the patient is unable to put on any outdoor shoes, as the dressing applied during the operation is thick. This means that the patient has to wear flip flops, but and in most workplaces, this may not be allowed for health & safety reasons. The fourth day is when you return to the clinic and we remove the dressings to check that everything went well and there are no post-operative complications.
After the follow-up appointment, the patient is required to redress their toe daily and carry out saltwater baths. This is required to minimise post-operative infection and help the healing process.
We understand how painful an ingrown toenail can be, especially when it affects a child or becomes infected. Therefore, we strive to offer you the earliest available appointment, usually within one to two days after your initial consultation. We can also provide emergency appointments or out of hours appointments, subject to availability, but a surcharge will apply.
The podiatrist will assess each case on an individual basis and provide a quote dependent on the extent of what is required. The nail surgery cost will include two follow-up appointments and a starter follow up dressing kit. For more information, please visit our prices page.
The answer is no!
You are free to eat and drink as normal before your surgery. We recommend a light meal approximately one hour before your surgery is due to be started.
On the actual day of your nail surgery you will need to ensure you:
Additionally, please feel free to bring a book or an iPad, which can keep you occupied during your nail surgery. We appreciate that some patients are nervous and do not wish to be involved!