Written by Michelle Champlin BSc Pod., M.Ch.S., S.R., Ch., (UK)
‘Onychocryptosis’ is a medical term for an ingrown toenail. It occurs when part of the nail penetrates or increases pressure on the skin which causes pain, inflammation, hyper-granulated tissue and sometimes even bacterial infection in the soft tissue around the toenail.
Why do I get ingrown toenails (and they keep coming back)?
The many causes of developing painful ingrowing toenails including:
Incorrect cutting of the nail (too short / leaving sharp edges / cutting down the sides of the toenail)
An underlying biomechanical issue of the foot such as ‘Pronation’ of the hallux – where the toe rotates – and Hallux Valgus (bunions)“ causing skin to ˜bulge™ on one side of the nail leading to an increase in pressure between of the toenail on the surrounding toe
Involuted nails “- where the nail is growing extremely curved at one or both edges rather than lying straight across the nail bed
Tight shoes causing increased pressure on the nail and skin
Trauma – deforming the nail growth will increase the chances of developing into an ingrown nail, such as kicking something or dropping an object on your toe
Swollen toes “- chubby digits or due to swelling during pregnancy can increase the skin bulging around the nail leading to an ingrown nail
Fungal nail infections - deformed, brittle or thickened nails increase the chances of developing an ingrown nail.
How can a Podiatrist help?
At Dubai Podiatry Centre, we work differently to Chiropodists and even other Podiatrists. We recommend treating any underlying root cause of all problems, so that the problem doesn’t come back. Rather than constantly seeing a podiatrist to correctively trim back your nail (which tends to keep coming back as the underlying problem hasn’t been fixed), we advise finding out and fixing any root cause. For example, if the ingrowing nail is due to an internally rotated toe and over-pronation at the ankle, simply correctively cutting the nail will not fix the issue for more than a few weeks. We may advise corrective orthotics to re-align your foot and ankle correctly to stop the resulting pressure on the toe and nail. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly treating the painful ingrowing nail, which may simply be a symptom of an underlying biomechanical issue.
Other issues such as an underlying chronic fungal nail infection should also be treated and addressed, as otherwise your nail will continue to grow in thickened / ingrown.
Therefore, we look at every single factor from your footwear, to hormones, underlying bacterial and/or fungal infections, growth pattern of the nail, biomechanics of your foot, ankle and leg and general medical history to get to the cause of why your nail is ingrowing. Then, you can be sure that you are receiving the correct specialist nail advice and precise course of treatment appropriate to the cause of your ingrowing nail. At Dubai Podiatry Centre, it is an important part of our ethos that patients are fully informed and can make treatment decisions based on a full assessment and best course of action for both the short and long term.
Diabetes and Ingrowing Nails
If you are Diabetic, it is also very important that you see a Podiatrist at least annually for your regular foot check up. If you experience any foot issue, including early signs of an ingrowing nail, seek prompt and early treatment from your Podiatrist to prevent more serious complications.
What should I do if I have an ingrowing nail?
We treat every nail as if it were our own, and know how painful ingrowing nails are. For permanent help and treatment of your painful ingrowing nail, come and see the nail experts at Dubai Podiatry Centre. Chief Podiatrist Michelle Champlin advises early intervention and rather than just constantly trimming the nail and putting up with pain every month, identify and fix any underlying cause.
Do not ever cut down the sides of your nail, or let anyone except a qualified medical professional such as a Podiatrist, do this. Do not let a pedicurist cut down the sides of your nail. Before seeing your Podiatrist, you can soak the feet for 10-15 minutes in a warm saline solution. Do not oversoak and keep the toe clean and dry otherwise. Avoid tight fitting hosiery, socks and shoes. You can also pack a little piece of gauze or cotton under the side of the nail to lift the nail up from pressing into your skin, if you can. Make an appointment with your Podiatrist to stop the ingrowing nail from causing infection to the surrounding tissue and to stop the nail from ingrowing again. If you already see redness and pus, you should see your GP in the meantime for a course of antibiotics.
For caring and professional treatment for any toenail, foot or leg issue, contact Dubai Podiatry Centre on 04 3435390.