Most of us have endured the sharp pain of an ingrown toenail at least once. If you’re one of the unlucky people who have, you know just how annoying it can be.
Wearing tight-fitting shoes becomes a daily nightmare, but you can’t help it. You need to go to the gym, to work, and your life can’t stop because of a pesky ingrown toenail.
So, should you let it heal by itself? Or would seeing a doctor be a better option?
While some ingrown toenails can heal by themselves, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, a podiatrist may diagnose an infection and prescribe antibiotics. In case the infection still resists treatment, they may prescribe a simple surgical procedure.
If the word “surgical” sends shivers down your spine, you’re not alone.
However, know that you don’t have to live in persistent pain just because you’re scared you may need surgery. And if you’re already certain about surgery, we guarantee you that the pain you’ve been feeling is more bothersome than the procedure will ever be.
The great news is that if you do need it, the surgery is simple. It lasts only minutes. And we can even prevent ingrown toenails from returning on that nail. For good.
What Causes the Pain of Ingrown Toenails?
An ingrown toenail is a wedge of nail that grows inward. The size of it may vary from person to person. However, even the tiniest slice can result in stabbing pain.
Patients with ingrown toenails usually report continuous pain that pierces the side of their toe. The source of the pain is the pressure of the nail on and into the skin.
The pain gets worse whenever the inflamed toenail touches a corner of a tight-fitting shoe. Also, the area where the toenail digs into the skin may look red and swollen. In some cases, the toenail could break into the skin, providing a gateway for bacterial infections.
As long as the toenail keeps puncturing the skin, the pain will persist. Trying to remove the impacted nail at home could make matters worse, especially if improper tools are used.
Between removing it yourself and seeing us at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists, the latter is your pain-free alternative!
Is the Surgery Painful?
Not typically, as we’ll always apply numbing to the toe before the procedure. It’s an anesthetic injection, which can feel uncomfortable at first. But seconds after the anesthetic kicks in, you won’t feel a thing.
The purpose of an ingrown toenail surgery is to destroy the infected nail bed. Depending on your particular situation, only part of the toenail may need to be removed. Removing the entire affected area will create an ideal environment for a healthy toenail to regrow.
In severe cases, which probably aren’t yours, the full toenail must be taken out. But just like hair, toenails will grow back in a few months.
Here’s the typical step-by-step of an ingrown toenail surgery:
- First, we’ll clean and numb your toe with an anesthetic injection. We’ll then tie a small rubber band around the toe as a tourniquet. At this point, you won’t be feeling anything.
- Next, we’ll use tools to take out the affected wedge. We’ll do this by vertically cutting the toenail from the ingrown side down to the cuticle. This will create a new, healthy, and straight nail bed.
- Finally, we’ll apply an acidic solution (such as phenol) to the area. The chemical will help stop any bleeding, as well as “kill” the infected root so it doesn’t disrupt healthy regrowth.
How About After the Surgery?
It’s not uncommon for patients to feel some pain once the anesthetic wears off. Nothing a good old pain reliever can’t fix!
Of course, after-surgery recommendations may vary between patients. Some will require topical antibiotic applications once or twice a day. We’ll let you know exactly if that’s your case.
For now, here are some handy recovery tips:
- Try to keep the recovering toe clean and dry.
- Yes, you may shower the day following the procedure. Just be sure to avoid soaking the toe in water for at least two weeks.
- You can definitely walk after the surgery. However, for the first two days, try to limit heavy activity like running.
- Whenever possible, keep your foot elevated while sitting down. Rest as much as you can on the day after surgery.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes during the first two weeks after surgery.
- And of course, don’t pick at the recovering nail. This will only delay healing.
Don’t Put Off Treatment Any Longer!
Ingrown toenails may be tiny, but the pain they cause can prevent you from doing the things you love.
If at-home treatments or prescribed treatments haven’t worked, try contacting us for treatment. We are foot specialists after all and have treated many, many ingrown toenails before!
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona, we specialize in removing ingrown toenails. Our team will assess your problem and advise you accordingly, regardless of the current condition of your toenail.
Now that you know exactly what to expect from the procedure and aftercare, your next step is to get rid of that painful thing as soon as possible. All you have to do is give us a call at our office in Chandler — (480) 963-9000. Or, if you’d prefer, contact us online.
It’s our job to get you walking, jogging, or running again in no time at all.