About as bad as they get..
These are really nasty ingrown toenails. Happily, Podiatrists almost never remove whole toenails – not even in a case this bad. Doing so can be a traumatic event that might cause problems when your nails regrow down the track. In virtually all cases, the most that is removed is a thin, curved piece from the side of the affected nail. If the nail is badly infected like these shown, local anaesthetic would be used to numb the area first – but if the problem is milder, this may not be needed . In most circumstances, it will be better to remove this nail as a tapering piece to put a ‘shovel nose’ shape on the end on the nail so it can push its way out without trouble. What we usually don’t do is to take a rectangular strip off the nail all the way to the bottom. This will take something like eight months to grow out, all this time pushing a flat ‘shoulder’ of nail out past your skin that has had months to close in around the narrowed nail.
Once the offending nail is removed, the infection will clear away as the flesh will no longer be traumatised by the nail. Sometimes we will apply a chemical called silver nitrate to shrink the overgrown bulges of flesh that can be seen in the picture. For more information, please browse to our Ingrown Toenails info sheet. Click on the following link to return to the Podiatry FAQs Blog.