Onychocryptosis, also known as an ingrown toenail, is one of the more common foot problems a chiropodist at our clinic treats. An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail penetrates into the surrounding skin. It can affect patients of all ages- both young and old. Although they can occur on any of the toes, ingrown toenails most commonly occur in the big toe. This problem can be caused by a number of factors such as improper toenail cutting, trauma to the nail, footwear or socks that fit too tight, increased foot moisture or sweating, foot mechanics such as pronation, and lastly genetics.
To prevent an ingrown toenail from occurring it is important to avoid tight fitting footwear and socks, try and trim toenails straight across where possible, and wear appropriate footwear and/or orthotics to manage foot mechanics such as pronation.
Initially, the signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail include redness and swelling both around the sides and end of the toe, and very sensitive to touch. Something as light in weight as a bed sheet on the ingrown toenail can cause significant pressure! Often patients find even putting on a shoe can be too painful. If left untreated, the toenail can pierce deeper into the skin and becomes increasingly more painful, warm in temperature, and easily infected. Long-standing ingrown toenails can develop hypergranulation tissue, which is when the surrounding skin starts to grow over the nail. This tissue bleeds/discharges easily and is very sore, especially when wearing shoes.
If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, it is important to see a chiropodist for treatment of the ingrown toenail as soon as you can. As ingrown toenails can be difficult to treat on your own, we recommend avoid cutting the ingrown nail yourself. In the clinic, the chiropodist would cut back and remove the ingrown toenail conservatively, and can prescribe the appropriate antibiotics if required. In some cases however, the ingrown toenail will require a surgical procedure to permanently remove a portion of the toenail, which is called a Partial Nail Avulsion. The chiropodist would determine the type of treatment as well as a management plan to prevent for future problems with ingrown toenails.
If you are having any trouble with your toenails, contact a chiropodist at our Oakville Hospital Footcare Clinic for treatment options.
Tania Lamovsek, Hons. BMSc, D. Ch. Registered Chiropodist