Ingrown toenails can be an extremely painful problem! You might not think such a small part of your body could cause so much distress, but a severe ingrown toenail could cause agony just by putting on a pair of shoes or draping a bedsheet against your foot.
But not to worry! At the Foot and Ankle Center of Oklahoma, we do our best to fix your ingrown toenail as easily and comfortably as possible. Treatment does not hurt, and we’ll get you on your way quickly. There’s no need to feel anxious or scared!
What Is an Ingrown Toenail?
The main symptom that will clue you in to the problem is tenderness or pain along one or both edges of the affected nail. This may be accompanied by redness, swelling, and sometimes even an infection.
If your pain is still mild, and you are otherwise a healthy individual, you may attempt some home care strategies first, if you really want to. Those are outlined below.
That said, it’s usually in your best interest to come see us, just because it’ll provide a safer, quicker, and more comfortable resolution with fewer risks of complications. Also, if your ingrown toenail is accompanied by severe pain, redness that spreads, pus in the area, or you have diabetes, you should always schedule an appointment with us right away. Do not wait!
Make It Easy on Yourself
We get it! Going to see a specialist for a painful problem like ingrown toenails can seem scary, especially if it’s your first time. But we aren’t kidding when we say we really do everything we can to make the experience a legitimately pleasant one.
If you’re really worked up about the idea of pain or needles (and it’s okay if you are!) we are happy to provide a topical numbing cream first, before applying the local anesthetic. We can even provide anti-anxiety medication at this point too if you’re really struggling (although if you go this route, you’ll need someone to drive you home.)
The actual injection process itself is quite mild.
- We’ll use a cold spray first to partially numb the toe.
- The needle itself could fairly be described as teeny-tiny. It’s the smallest one we could possibly use for this kind of procedure.
- The injection is made at the base of the toe, not the tip.
- The anesthetic is mixed with a little sodium bicarbonate, which makes it less acidic (and therefore takes away a lot of the “sting.”)
- It’s applied slowly, which takes away a lot of the “burn.”
We can honestly say that it’s probably going to be the most pleasant experience you’ve ever had with a needle. Even patients who normally have a lot of anxiety about needles tell us how easy it was!
What Are Your Treatment Options?
So now that your toe is numb, what are we actually going to do to your nail?
The first, simplest approach is for us to just gently trim back the nail to reduce the pressure. (Don’t attempt this at home—we’re professionals, so we know how to do this without making the problem worse.) This can be done in the future anytime you have an ingrown toenail.
If ingrown toenails are a recurring problem in your life, you may additionally want us to remove a portion of the nail matrix as well. This will prevent the part of the nail that keeps getting ingrown from growing back. Problem solved!
An Avulsion is also a treatment option. This procedure is very similar to removing the nail matrix, but the only difference is the toenail is able to regrow.
Either way, most people are back on their feet and tackling their ordinary day-to-day activities within 24 hours of the procedure. If you are a serious athlete or swimmer, you might have to wait a week or two to go back to full speed, but that’s pretty much it.
Ingrown Toenail Treatment for Kids
For all you parents out there: yes, we do see pediatric patients for ingrown toenails all the time—including kids who are as young as two or three years old. We love seeing kids, and we promise we aren’t going to do anything to overly stress them out! In general they tend to handle treatment exceptionally well—that’s how mild and not-scary the process is.
If your child is a little older, we usually talk them through the process so they feel comfortable, confident, and cared for. Really, kids above about five tend to have a decent understanding that, yes, this may sting for a couple of seconds, but it’s going to really help them.
If, on the other hand, your child is really anxious, we can always schedule the procedure to be performed at a local surgery center, where we’ll have access to more general anesthesia options. Once your child is sleeping like an angel, they’ll get the IV, get the procedure done, and wake up all better!
Home Care for Ingrown Toenails
As we said above, if you are healthy, there’s no sign of infection, and your pain is still in the mild-to-moderate zone, you may wish to attempt treating your ingrown toenail on your own.
Frankly, we still think it’s probably in your best interest to come see us. But if you are the DIY type, you’re going to want stick to the following game plan:
- Soak your feet several times per day in warm salt water. This will help reduce tenderness and swelling.
- Wear shoes that don’t rub on your toenail. Sandals are a great choice as long as they have good support for your arch. Sneakers with a lot of “wiggle room” in the toe box are also good.
- Carefully trim your toenails, but not too deep. And don’t try to lift or dig the nail out.
There’s really not much else you can do on your own. Cutting a V-notch definitely doesn’t work, and trying to lift the nail or put something under it (which some websites suggest) is usually only a temporary option.
Keep an eye on your toenail for a few days, and if it isn’t getting better (or getting worse), give our office a call. Trust us—you’ll be glad you did.
Stop the Suffering!
We have performed ingrown toenail procedures literally thousands of times for OKC residents of all ages and activity levels. So we not only know a thing or two about getting the job done correctly, but also making the experience as comfortable—even enjoyable—as possible.
So don’t suffer any longer! Stop trying to dig out your toenails on your own and give us a call at (405) 418-2676. We can get them fixed for good!
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