Ingrown Toe Nails

One of the most common and painful toe ailments in a chiropody office is ingrown toe nails or onychocryptosis. An ingrown toe nail occurs when the sides or a sharp corner of the nail digs into the sulcus of the toe resulting in pain, swelling and in some cases infection.

The most common causes of this condition include inappropriate cutting of the nail, footwear, and injury.

Improper trimming of the toenails such as nails that are peeled off along the edge or cut into the corners are more likely to cause ingrown toe nails. This can be further exacerbated by the shape of the nail itself; that is some nails (especially the big toe nail) tend to be more curved from side to side or involuted rather than being flat. Thus when these involuted nails are cut along the corners, many tend to leave a sharp corner or spike that is continuously driven into the sulcus with every step taken. Eventually, the nail penetrates the skin barrier thus allowing environmental bacterial a portal to enter into the nutrient richenvironment of the inner body. The toe then becomes red and swollen with purulent discharge when infected. In some cases, with diabetic patient, these types of infection may lead to systemic pathology.

Inappropriate footwear may also cause ingrown toe nails. Shoes that are tapered and shallow tend to compress the toes together thus influencing the nail to grow abnormally. The same can be said about high heels. Injury to the toe or nail may alter the growth rate and shape of the nail thus making it more prone to becoming ingrown.

The cornerstone of ingrown nail treatment is to cut the nails strait across and allow the corners to protrudeout. If this is not possible the next step would be to seek the help of a Chiropodist. A skilled foot specialist such as a Chiropodist can painlessly remove the offending spike. If theingrown toe nail is too painful, a local anaesthetic may be used and the offendingnail is surgically removed. A non-invasive alternative, is a procedure called nail bracing. This procedure involves a denture wire that is custom shaped to the nailwith hooks on either side of the brace that attaches to the corners of the ingrownnail and lifts the nail out of the sulcus thus relieving pain. The brace is thenglued onto the nail and allowed to influence the growth of the nail plate. Thebrace is then adjusted periodically until the shape of the pathological nail is corrected.

Ingrown toe nails have a tendency of becoming chronic, it is therefore advisable to wear shoes that allow you to wiggle your toes up and down and side to side, follow appropriate protocol for nail cutting or see a Chiropodist for regular treatment.

Remember: always be proactive when it comes to foot care, because in our lives we may wear many pairsof shoes but we only have one of pair of feet.
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