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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
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By contactus
December 07, 2011
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Do you have a nagging pain in your big toe around the sides of the toe nail that seems to be getting red and tender? This could be a very common problem called an “ingrown toe nail”, and it is caused by the one or both sides (left or right as you look at the big toe nail from above) of the toe nail growing in an abnormal direction into the skin that is located to the sides of the nail. As the nail continues to grow into the skin, the area can become red, swollen, painful, and possibly even infected. As this occurs, the area becomes very tender, and even a minor bump or light touch can cause extreme pain. For some people, this can be a genetic problem, which means it will keep recurring over and over unless that part of the toe nail is permanently removed me during on office visit. For others, these ingrown toe nails can be caused by trauma from wearing shoes that are too tight or poor technique in cutting the nail causing edges to start growing into the nearby skin. Today I will discuss some prevention and treatment options for these painful toe nail problems.

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                If this is one of the first few times you have experienced this problem, I will discuss all of your options, but could likely decide to just cut out the bad edge of the toe nail. This is a temporary procedure called an “incision and drainage”, in which a local anesthetic is applied to the toe to cause numbness, and then the bad edge of the nail is cut out all the way down to its root. The area is cleaned and drained, with an antibiotic cream and a bandage applied. If these ingrown toe nails continue to happen again and again, I may recommend a more permanent procedure. This procedure is the exact same as the procedure above, except after the nail edge is removed, I will apply a liquid chemical called “phenol” to the area where the nail was removed (there are a couple other chemical options besides phenol as well). This chemical actually kills the nail root and cells in the area, preventing new nail from growing in that area again. After both of these procedures, I will instruct you on how to keep the area clean for a few days and how to change the bandage to treat and/or prevent any infection in the area. This may include the application of antibacterial cream or soaking your foot in Epsom salt and warm water for 20 minutes once or twice per day.

                There are some ways to prevent these painful toe nails from occurring. You should make an appointment with me to discuss how to ensure proper shoe size and shoe fit, because a shoe that is too small can cause your toes to crunch together and lead to these nail problems, along with a multitude of other possible problems. Another preventative measure is proper nail cutting. You should avoid cutting the nail too short and avoid cutting the corner edges at an angle. The toe nails should be cut straight across in order to promote normal outward growth of the toe nail and prevent crooked corner edges that could grow into the skin. Most important in treatment or prevention is to take action as soon as you notice a problem. Ingrown toe nail removal is a very common procedure done our office, and the earlier ingrown toe nail problems are addressed, the quicker they can heal and the less likely they will become infected.  Call our office today for ingrown toe nail pain or any other question or concern regarding the health and condition of your feet, and remember—you don’t have to live with the pain!

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