A common condition treated by podiatrists is ingrown toenails. An ingrown toenail occurs when a portion of the edge of a toenail irritates, and in severe cases penetrates, the sulcus (the groove where the nail edge meets the skin). The severity of an ingrowing toenail is variable. In many cases you can manage ingrown toenails conservatively, but in severe cases surgery may be required.
Fortunately, most ingrown toenails can be managed by podiatrists. In fact, podiatrists should be amongst the first medical professionals consulted if you have an ingrown toenail. A GP may prescribe antibiotics if an ingrown toenail is infected, however it is generally the podiatrist that treats the ingrown toenail so that the infection does not recur.
An ingrown toenail can occur in any toe at any nail edge, but are most common in the big toes.
The most common symptoms of ingrown toenails include:
If a toenail is ingrown, often it can be managed conservatively (which essentially means without surgical intervention). Using sterile podiatry tools, the podiatrist will aim to remove the portion of nail which is causing the irritation.
If the ingrown toenail is too far down, heavily infected and/or too uncomfortable to remove in this manner, the podiatrist may recommend a minor surgical procedure to remove the portion of nail which in ingrown.
The surgical procedure involves a nail edge resection and often a matrix phenolisation procedure (to prevent recurrence) which is performed by the podiatrist under sterile conditions in the treatment chair. It involves the administration of local anaesthetic (by the podiatrist) and the subsequent surgical procedure is therefore painless. It involves the removal of the offending nail edge, no stitches are required. The entire procedure takes approximately 1-1.5 hours. The podiatrist will then review the toe a day or two after the procedure and advise the patient on how best to care for the toe thereafter.
The Biomechanics Lab are Podiatrists who help clients with a range of foot, ankle and lower limb complaints, including ingrown toenails. Danielle Champion and Steph Howard are able to assess and perform conservative or surgical treatment for ingrown toenails, and consults at Move for Better Health’s Magill & Malvern clinics.