Both a true ingrown nail and onychophosis (See FAQ 21 for info about corns under the toenail edge) could be a short term or a long term complaint. At the first visit to our podiatry clinic, the podiatrist will address the painful part of the problem and you will walk out with a much relieved toe. Usually, if there is infection present, it would be normal to expect 3/4 of the pain to go immediately and the rest over a few days as the infection clears. Antibiotics are usually not needed once the nail spike has been removed, unless the toe is very infected.
Treatment involves using a very five chisel shaped scalpel blade to cut through the nail spike, free it up and take it out. As a rough rule, if the ingrown part is in the end half of the toe nearest to the free front edge of the nail, local anaesthetic isn’t commonly needed as removal is not much of a problem. If the infection is in the close half of the nail, it is more likely that you will need to be numbed for the removal to make it a more comfortable experience. This happens with an injection into the fleshy tissue right down in the base of the toe where it is less painful. Even when numb, just a sliver of nail would be removed. It isn’t at all common for a podiatrist to take off a whole nail.
If your ingrown nail problem was a one off one, perhaps the result of a nail cutting accident, this one visit to remove the offending nail might be all that is required. If the underlying cause of the infection is a deformed toenail that will cause the problem to occur repetitively, a permanent solution may be recommended for a later visit. This is called a nail wedge resection and the procedure is done in the clinic, in a brief visit. It should result in the eradication of ingrown nail problems for life. For more information, please browse to Ingrown Toenails information sheet. Click on the following link to return to the topic list at Podiatry FAQs Blog.