Ingrown toenails: The lessons and the patients
December 17, 2017
We’ve been seeing a lot of patients with ingrown toenails lately. From kids to adults alike – we’ve even quickly removed ingrown toenails from kids at 6 months old. That’s right – your nails don’t discriminate against age. We thought we’d highlight 3 recent cases because we find that a lot of people (definitely not all) tend to fall into these categories. Case One: “It’ll be all good, bro” As the title may suggest, this was a classic kiwi male. Hard worker, on his feet all day, works in both steel capped boots and gumboots. He first noticed his ingrown toenail developing a few months ago. Yes, that’s right – months ago. He felt a bit of pain but shrugged it away, thinking it’ll go away on its own. It didn’t. One side of the nail pierced the surrounding skin. The toe became swollen. In the following month, it developed a minor infection. Because of the swelling, the other nail edge started growing into the skin too. It bled. It was irritated when he wore shoes and at work. But being a trooper, he persevered. Until 2.5 months after he first noticed a little bit of pain, he came in to see us. Case Two: The fashionable businesswoman She came in to see us approximately two weeks after her pain began in her big toe. She tried cutting it and controlling it herself, but to no avail. The toe was red, swollen and has a small amount of yellow exudate as it had developed a minor infection. She wears pointy shoes to work and continued to do so for the last two weeks – but when she’d sit down at her desk she would take them off to get some relief for her toe. She also took lots of painkillers. The trigger for her to come in to see us was because the pain got so uncomfortable that even a sheet on her toe at night started causing her pain. Case Three: The young footy legend This 11-year-old superstar came in with his mum because his toe was red, swollen and very painful. So much so that he couldn’t kick the ball anymore without yelling out in pain. The pain had started 7-10 days ago he guessed. He also doesn’t cut his nails – he ‘picks’ them. The lessons If you can relate to any of these people, don’t worry. You are most definitely not alone. There are a few takeaway points here:
- Self-management can be more difficult than you think once the nail has grown into the skin. Because the edge of the nail can be so deep down there, even if you cut most of the nail, very often a small nail spicule is left that keep irritating the skin and prevents it from healing. This very often happens when the nail is ‘picked’ off.
- Don’t wait for ingrown toenails to get worse before coming in to see your Podiatrist. The longer the problem, the harder it becomes to get the offending nail edge out (though don’t worry, we’ve got all the right tools to do it).
- If you wait too long, the swelling of the toe can cause the other edge to become ingrown too because of the increased pressure from the skin.
- Performing daily activities will only get harder and you don’t have to put up with that.
- See your Podiatrist. Now. If you have an ingrown toenail.