Most people will have an ingrown toenail at some point, but in some cases, the same toenail repeatedly becomes embedded in the surrounding skin. In this case, there are several strategies that can fix the problem permanently.
Think About Your Shoes And Foot Care
Your shoes and the way you care for your feet can contribute to the same toenail becoming ingrown. Make sure the shoes you wear always fit properly. If your shoes are not the right size or width, they can cause pressure on the toenail and force it to embed in the skin. Over time, consistently wearing poorly-fitting shoes may change the way the toenail grows, causing it to grow at an unusual angle. Whenever you buy shoes, be sure to have your feet measured since your shoe size can change for any number of reasons, such as weight gain and loss or swelling. Wearing shoes with a toe box that mimics the natural shape of your feet can also help. As far as foot care is concerned, the way you trim your toenails can affect whether it becomes ingrown. You should always trim your toenails straight across and slightly round the edges with a nail file.
Have The Nail Matrix Cauterized
If the same toenail becomes ingrown frequently, your podiatrist might suggest having the nail matrix cauterized. During the procedure, the doctor will numb your toe so the ingrown toenail can be comfortably removed. The nail is cut away by cutting from the edge of the nail toward the cuticle. Your doctor will use a special instrument to lift the nail away from the bed and free it from the cuticle. Once the ingrown portion is freed, the nail matrix is cauterized with either electrocautery or silver nitrate. If silver nitrate is used, it is applied at the base of the nail, under the cuticle. The silver nitrate must be applied several times to be certain the nail matrix is destroyed and the nail does not grow back.
Consider Other Surgical Approaches
Although the problem might seem like your toenail frequently becomes ingrown, the real problem might be overgrown skin around the toenail. In this situation, the Vandenbos procedure will be more effective than simply removing the ingrown portion of the toenail. During the procedure, much of the skin surrounding the sides and tip of the toe is removed. Since the redundant skin is removed, it can no longer grow over the nail and cause the nail to become embedded in the skin. Although the procedure is more time-consuming and will require additional healing time than simply removing some or all of the toenail and destroying the matrix, people generally do not experience additional issues with ingrown toenails after the procedure.
Repeated ingrown toenails are not only painful, but they can contribute to skin infections. When wearing better-fitting shoes and being more careful about your foot care does not help, there are in-office ingrown toenail treatments that can typically eliminate the problem.