As cooler weather returns to Columbus, with the official first day of fall this past Saturday, many people will be transitioning from their open to closed-toed shoes. While toenails may be out of sight in closed-toed shoes, they also may be more prone to developing painful ingrown toenails.
Onychocryptosis is the term that describes toenails that puncture the skin surrounding the nail. The feet and toes come in contact with a multitude of bacteria, and these areas of skin punctured by curved nails have a propensity to become infected. Nails that are naturally curved are at a higher risk for irritating or piercing the skin. Onychocryptosis is most commonly caused when an individual attempts to trim nails in a way that rounds the corners of the nail. When rounding the toenail, a barb or small angular piece may remain and cause irritation to the skin. If allowed to progress, the irritation may become infected. Signs of an infected ingrown toenail include swelling, redness, pain, warmth and drainage from the affected nail border. These infections in the skin surrounding the nail are referred to as paronychia. Because the bone comprising the tip of the toe lies directly underneath the nail bed, paronychia can spread down to bone causing osteomyelitis, or bone infection.
With such serious consequences, infected ingrown toenails should be avoided if possible and treated by your podiatrist when if they do occur. Preventative measures against ingrown toenails include: trimming toenails straight across, keeping feet clean and choosing shoes with an appropriately wide toebox. When an ingrown toenail does occur, warm soaks of the toe may offer some temporary relief, but the problem will not be resolved until the nail piece causing the irritation is removed. There are several options when it comes to the treatment of ingrown toenails. A partial nail avulsion may be performed in which the offending strip of nail is removed. Another more permanent option is known as a partial chemical matrixectomy. The procedure removes the offending portion of the nail and your podiatrist then applies a chemical that will kill the area that the nail grows from. This prevents the regrowth of a section of the nail and thus future occurrences of ingrown toenails. In some cases, the skin surrounding the nail may be enlarged from repeatedly being irritated by the nail. When this occurs, the skin can be reduced along with a partial removal of the nail growth center, or matrix – a technique known as a Winograd surgery. Whichever treatment course you and your podiatrist decide upon, this fall can end the cycle of repeated painful ingrown toenails!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.