Nails grow from a root beneath the skin called the matrix. This growth center can vary in size and shape. It may produce a nail which is flat or curved, wide or narrow. Those people with curved or wide toenails are more prone to develop an ingrown nail. This occurs when the nail grows into the skin edges that surround it. Improper trimming, injury, shoe pressure, excess skin on the sides of the nail, fungal infections, or even bone spurs under the nail may be a cause of ingrown nails.
Ingrown nails may cause pain at the end of the toe or all along the edge. Pain is often worse in shoes. The edge that is in the skin may cause infection or inflammation. The toe may be red, swollen, or have pus or drainage. At times, an X-ray or lab test may be needed.
Because of nail shape and other factors, not all ingrown nails can be prevented. However, cutting nails too short may leave a rough edge or a corner that can pierce the skin as the nail grows outward. Most people do best by allowing the sides of the nail to be smooth and just over the skin on the end of the toe. That is why the method of cutting the toenails straight across is often encouraged.
Initial treatment has the goal of relieving pain & clearing infection or inflammation. If the toe is not infected, your podiatrist may be able to carefully trim the ingrown nail edge, without any discomfort. An infected toe usually requires removing the edge (a portion of the ingrown toenail) or in some cases the entire nail. Local anesthetic can be used to lessen the pain. You simply won't have any pain during the removal of the ingrown toenail because the toe will be numb. (Cutting a V-shape in the nail or tucking cotton under the edge are rarely effective in an infected toe. ) If the toe is bandaged, follow instructions for care and soaking. If an antibiotic is given, take it as directed. These measures should allow the toe to heal and for the infection to clear.
Emergency Appointments in San Francisco
An ingrown toenail may be a small problem, but they can be incredibly painful. In some cases the infection can spread and lead to amputations or other serious problems. For these reasons we often have same-day emergency house call appointments available in the San Francisco Bay Area so we can take care of those needing immediate attention. If you need an emergency appointment, please our scheduling line at 415-308-0833.
What to Expect during your Podiatrist's Visit
Depending on the condition of the ingrown toenail, antibiotics may be prescribed and lab test may be ordered. It may be possible to simply remove a portion of the ingrown nail without causing any discomfort at all. In some cases, local anesthetic might be used to make the tender area numb. The ingrown portion of the nail can then be removed. Most people experience significant immediate relief from the pain. Pain medicine is almost never necessary, because the toe feels better when your doctor's visit is over and the painful piece of nail has been removed. We usually see you about one week later to make sure the ingrown toenail is completely healed. In some cases we can do this over the internet to save you time.
Dr. Christopher Segler is a San Francisco Podiatrist specializing in toenail surgery. Because he realizes just how painful ingrown toenails can be, he will even come to your home, office or hotel room to treat your painful infected ingrown toenail with an emergency house call in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can have relief from your ingrown toenail in about an about an hour.