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Definition

This is surgery to remove a toenail that has curled and grown into the skin, causing pain.

Ingrown Nail
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Reasons for Procedure

The entire nail or the portion of the nail growing into the skin may be removed. It is most often done to:

  • Relieve swelling or pain
  • Treat an infection
  • Remove a deformed nail
  • Correct abnormal nail growth

This procedure is most often done when the nail has repeatedly cause these problems.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection
  • Excessive swelling or bleeding

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Diabetes
  • Problems with blood circulation

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Wear comfortable clothing and loose-fitting shoes.
  • Arrange for a ride home.

Anesthesia

You will be given local anesthesia. Only the area that is being operated on will be numbed by an injection.

Description of the Procedure

A local anesthetic will be used to numb the toe. The nail will be cut down towards the cuticle (bottom of the nail) using special tools. Then either the whole nail or part of the nail will be pulled off. A chemical may be put on the cuticle to prevent the nail that was removed from growing back.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than 1 hour

How Much Will It Hurt?

It will likely hurt when the anesthetic is injected into your toe. During the procedure, you will not feel pain, but you will feel pressure and tugging. After the procedure, you will likely have some pain. Your doctor may give you pain relievers.

Post-procedure Care

To help with your recovery:

  • Wear cotton socks and loose fitting shoes for about 2 weeks.
  • Do not run or engage in strenuous activities until the toe is healed. You may need to wait 2 weeks.
  • To avoid future ingrown nails:
    • Do not wear high heels or shoes that fit poorly.
    • Trim your toenails straight across. Do not pick or tear at them.

Complete healing takes about 2-3 weeks. This will not interfere with most activities. If the entire nail was removed, your body will create a hard skin in its place. After the skin has covered the sensitive area, you can resume normal activities.

Call Your Doctor

Call you doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the wound
  • Chalky white, blue, or black appearance to skin of toes or foot

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES

American Diabetes Association  http://www.diabetes.org 

Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons  https://www.foothealthfacts.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada  https://nefca.ca 

Canadian Podiatric Medical Association  https://www.podiatrycanada.org 

References

Eekhof JA, Van Wijk B, Knuistingh Neven A, van der Wouden JC. Interventions for ingrowing toenails. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(4):CD001541.

Ingrown toenail. Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/ingrown-toenail. Accessed March 6, 2018.

Ingrown toenails. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/ingrown-toenails. Updated January 2018. Accessed March 6, 2018.

Paronychia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115236/Paronychia  . Updated August 11, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.

Zuber TJ. Ingrown toenail removal. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(12):2547-2554.

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