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Ingrown Toenails

Dr. Weiss

Ingrown toenails are a common and somewhat painful condition; get the facts and know what can be done about it.

An ingrown toenail that lingers and keeps returning can be painful and keep you from your daily activities. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can become infected and complicate the treatment. A matrixectomy is the medical term that means removing the growth area of the nail that is leading to the curved ingrown toenail. This allows for a permanent solution to prevent your ingrown toenail from returning.

Ingrown toenails can occur at any age and is one of the most common problems treated by a podiatrist. They can occur from injury to the nail, tight shoes, picking at your toenail, trying to remove deep pieces of the nail and some people are actually born with curved nails.

While ingrown toenails are generally not dangerous, if allowed to linger too long and get infected, complications can occur. Repeated infection around the nail can lead to a bone infection. The bone is very superficial in this area and that is why there is this risk. Early treatment is the answer to avoiding more serious problems.

Another typical problem with infected ingrown toenail is not seeing your podiatrist for this condition. Often, people will seek the care of their primary care physician and they will be placed on antibiotics only. Without removal of the infection and a piece of the nail causing the problem, antibiotics alone often don't work. As a result, multiple types of antibiotics are administered and eventually they lose their efficacy when you have a more serious problem.


So what exactly happens during a matrixectomy?

You will come into the office and sit comfortably in the chair. Feel free to bring some music and a pair of earbuds or something similar. Your doctor will make your toe completely numb with a safe anesthetic. Your toe will be tested to make sure it is 100% numb. You may feel touch and pressure but not pain and that is normal. Now your doctor will place a tourniquet around the toe to keep any bleeding from keeping the medication applied to the growth area from working.

There will be no incisions. A specialized instrument will be used to gently slip out the curved portion of the nail along with the growth plate. The area where the growth piece was removed will then be treated with a specialized chemical to destroy any remaining growth tissues and to make the procedure a permanent solution. The matrixectomy only takes 5-10 minutes and you walk out in an open toed shoe. Some doctors have you soak the area and others use medication and specialized bandages to promote healing. The area may get red from the chemical and there may be some drainage from the chemical. Some people and even doctors mistake this for infection. If this is happening and you are not sure, make sure to see your doctor as they understand how these procedures heal and what they should look like. After you heal, you will no longer have a curved nail and you will have a nice cosmetic appearance with a straight-edged nail. You will be very happy with the results and glad that you finally fixed the problem permanently.

If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, call Dr. Weiss’s office at 804-346-1779 for an evaluation.

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