Onychocryptosis, more commonly known as an ingrown nail, is one of the most common complaints we see as Podiatrists.
Signs and symptoms of an ingrown nail include:
- Pain or tenderness of the affected side
Incorrect cutting of nails
A good general rule to follow is to cut straight across the top of the nail. Cutting down the sides can tend to cause irritation as the nail grows through.
Natural shape of the nail
Involuted (curved) nails often dive deep down the nail sulcus, causing irritation and inflammation. Occasionally the nail plate can be too wide for the space it has to grow and therefore it sits underneath the skin.
Tight fitting footwear around the forefoot area can irritate the nail sulcus and causes inflammation around the nail plate.
As with many things, if there is a family history of ingrown nails you will be at a greater risk of developing them yourself.
When left for a long period of time, the risk of the area becoming infected increases so it is important to manage in an efficient manner. First-line treatment involves clearing of the side of nail that is causing the pain and inflammation. Whilst conservative care is a good way to manage ingrown nails, in some situations it is best to look at a more long-term solution for recurring ingrown nails to resolve the issue entirely.
As Podiatrists we are able to carry out nail surgery which is otherwise known as a ‘partial nail avulsion’. This treatment involves numbing of the affected toe with an injection of local anaesthetic. The nail portion causing the irritation is then removed, along with cauterisation of the nail matrix with a chemical called phenol. If successful, the potion of nail that was removed will no longer grow back, resolving the pain associated with the ingrown nail.