Ingrown toenails are one of the most common reasons people come in to see me. If you've never had one, you're fortunate. They hurt! My name is Dr. Andrew Schneider and I'm a podiatrist in Houston, TX. You don't
have to just live with an ingrown toenail. There are things you can do to treat it and prevent it from returning.
If you're prone to developing #IngrownToenails, it's likely you've had them treated before. Perhaps you treated them yourself, or what I like to call performing "bathroom surgery." If the toenails become infected, you may have already visited a podiatrist, dermatologist, pediatrician, or urgent care to have it addressed. But they keep coming back.
First of all, it's most likely not your fault. Ingrown toenails are often inherited. It's just the way the nail grows. The nail ends up too wide for the nail bed, leading to ingrown toenails. There are other cases where an ingrown toenail is made worse by improper trimming or pressure from the shoes also. Depending on where you got your toenail treated, you may have just been given antibiotics.
This may help temporarily, but a better choice is a minor procedure to remove the extreme borders of the nail from the skin. Even if that procedure is done, you often end up back in the office every 9-12 months with the same toe infected all over again. I know how frustrating that can be! There is a better way.
After an ingrown toenail that is infected is treated in the office, I recommend a follow up visit in three months. That's long enough to see how the nail will regrow but not long enough for it to become infected.
Sometimes, it's clear that the ingrown toenail has not returned. That's common in cases where you may have gotten an overaggressive pedicure or if you trimmed your own nails improperly. They will lead to and infected ingrown toenail, but it won't become chronic.
In cases where I see the toenail is regrowing ingrown there is a high probability that the nail will continue growing and will ultimately lead to another infection. This is where we want the cycle to stop. There is a procedure that will permanently prevent the ingrown toenail from returning. This procedure can only be done when the toe isn't infected, so it's not usually an option the first time around. The procedure is similar to the procedure I'd perform if the toe is infected.
I start by numbing the toe at its base. That is the only part of the procedure that is uncomfortable. I then remove the border of the toenail that's ingrown. In cases where a procedure was done previously, I only remove the portion of the toenail that is regrowing. I'm very mindful of the cosmetic appearance of the nail. No one wants to nail that doesn't look
After I remove the ingrowing border, I then apply a medication to the base of the nail. This chemically cauterizes the corner of the nail matrix, which are the cells that grow the nail. Again, only the border of the nail is treated. The rest of the nail will continue to grow as usual. There's no need
to soak the foot afterwards, since there's no infection to clear.
I do supply a dressing kit that has everything you need in it to care for your toe. You'll be dressing your toe for two weeks after the procedure. While this procedure is very successful, I do sometimes see regrowth of the treated border. This happens about 5% of the time and is more common for my younger patients. The cells are young, healthy, and resilient. Sometimes they just reform.