What is an ingrown toenail?
Ingrown toenails can be debilitating, footwear dictating and just downright painful. They occur when the nail edge pushes into and/or irritates the nail sulci, commonly resulting in infection and inflammation. It can also occur when a nail 'spike' is left behind from cutting the nail incorrectly. For most suffers this occurrence is all too familiar and dreaded, and can interrupt sporting activities and limit shoe selection.
Do all ingrown toenails require a Partial Nail Avulsion
First time cases can usually be managed conservatively, depending on the severity. This involves seeing your Podiatrist for reduction of the nail edge, removal of any nail spike, callous and debris that may be present. If swollen, red tissue (also known as hyper granulation tissue) is present on the nail fold or growing over the edge of the nail, your Podiatrist may be able to reduce this conservatively. Warm salt baths for the toe, application of an antiseptic and a bandage are recommended to ensure the area is kept clean. In more severe cases, antibiotics may be required. Your Podiatrist can help determine this and provide you a referral to see the doctor.
For those with long-‐standing discomfort and repeated episodes of inflammation/infection, the best treatment is to undergo a Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA), also known as a nail wedge resection. It is a more permanent treatment modality and saves you having to visit your Podiatrist every few months!
What does the procedure involve?
We book a 1 hour appointment for the procedure, but it generally takes less time than this. The procedure involves:
A local anaesthetic injection to numb the affected toe and waiting for 10 minutes to ensure the toe is numb
Using a sterile technique and instruments, the nail edge is removed and sulci is cleared
Application of a chemical called Phenol, that prevents re-growth of the nail
A follow up appointment with the Podiatrist is booked within 3 - 6 days to change the dressing and ensure healing has started.
What is the recovery time following a Partial Nail Avulsion?
Recovery from a PNA is relatively quick, but depends on your overall foot health. We recommend taking 1 - 2 days to rest and elevate your feet and wearing open-toed footwear. Most athletes and even kids are able to return to play within a couple of days. The aim for the next few weeks is to heal the nail bed, which usually takes 2 - 4 weeks in total. Your Podiatrist will provide you with a dressing plan that can be followed at home.