Nailing It: Finding the Right Relief from Ingrown Toenail Pain - Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, DPM

Nailing It: Finding the Right Relief from Ingrown Toenail Pain

Jul 23, 2020

At first glance, an ingrown toenail might not seem like a problem that would require a trip to the doctor’s office. Some people include it as part of that unwritten code of self-maintenance that includes changing your oil in your car and creating a proper budget. But in reality, an ingrown is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” that can be deceiving.

The truth is you should seek professional treatment for an ingrown toenail – and that’s something we’re happy to help you with right here. Because an ingrown toenail might seem simple on the surface, the problem can (literally) run deeper than you expect… and bathroom surgeons give us a ton of business.

A Nail Rebellion

Typically, your toenail and the nearby skin coexist rather peacefully if they are the appropriate size and “stay in their lanes.”

But if something causes the toenail to widen or curve downward, it starts encroaching on the neighboring skin. I compare it to a teenager testing their parent’s limits, the skin can put up with only so much until the toenail pushes a little farther… and a little farther… and the area erupts. The body, and sometimes parents, will usually give a few episodes of warning before World War III is declared.

These are:

  • Pain and tenderness to the touch
  • Swelling and redness
  • Drainage or discharge of pus

Many times when we treat ingrown toenails, the patient is surprised by just how much extra nail was underneath their skin! But they also feel a great deal of relief, too. That’s the important part. Imagine how you would feel after a 3 inch splinter is removed from your skin?

Big toe pain caused-by an ingrown toenail

Why Home Treatment is Not a Good IdeaReal Treatment for Ingrown Toenails (It’s Not as Bad as You Think!)

There is a fair amount of free advice out there for how to treat an ingrown toenail at home. Unfortunately, you know what they say about free advice.

Let’s run briefly through some of these non-recommended methods:

  • Placing cotton beneath the nail. This doesn’t seem like such a bad idea on the surface, as you are trying to guide the nail away from the skin. However, swollen areas tend to absorb more moisture and bacteria. Placing foreign objects right up next to the area can act as a “kindling” of sorts for infection, giving bacteria even more places to congregate.
  • Cutting a V-shaped notched into the nail. Where does this even come from? Cutting a notch is not going to magically make your toenail retreat on the sides. It’s like cutting a notch into the side of a table: nothing happens, and you just end up with a goofy-looking table. Also, a table is not full of nerves and liable to bleed if you cut too far into it.
  • “Bathroom Surgery.” Under NO circumstances should you EVER attempt cutting or digging into your nail to remove an ingrown toenail. The risks for infection are much too high, and it’s going to hurt a ton more than if you just come to see us in the first place. Most patients who try this method end up seeing us anyway, so please save yourself the torture.
  • OTC medication like “OutGro” or other so called pain relievers. Treating with this option is like removing the battery from a smoke detector to stop a fire.

Ultimately, seeing us for professional ingrown toenail treatment often saves so much time, trouble, and pain that it’s pretty much a no brainer. And if you have a condition such as diabetes or poor circulation that provides an even higher risk of complications or infection, calling us should always be your first step.

ingrown toenail

Real Treatment for Ingrown Toenails (It’s Not as Bad as You Think!)

We absolutely understand the hesitation you might feel about coming in to have an ingrown toenail fixed. If it already hurts when you touch it.

Most patients are pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and simple it is to treat an ingrown nail. Please look at the stories my patients have posted as reviews. There is no need to play the tough guy role with this problem.

Because the nail is much wider than what it appears, the bathroom surgeon only removes a small fragment leaving a spike of nail that creates a bigger problem in the future.

A big benefit of professional treatment is that your toe can be properly numbed and the supersized border of the nail can be removed so it does not come back. This procedure will provide substantial relief even after the local anesthetic wears off. Your toe will feel a lot better the very next day than it did before you came in.

If the nail is healthy, only the offending border needs to be removed. However, if a nail is thick, discolored, or otherwise unhealthy—or if ingrown toenails keep repeatedly returning—it may be necessary to remove the nail entirely. 

While the idea of not having a toenail might seem strange, it does not cause any additional problems than having a nail. 

A nail-less toe can do just about everything one with a nail can. You can even apply nail polish to the skin, and have an outline from the previous nail to paint within the lines. We do recommend acrylic polish vs gel but we do not recommend bonding any fake nails to your skin. Removal may not be very fun.

Ingrown Toenail Relief on the First Try

Don’t subject yourself to any more agony than you need to. We are always happy to see you about ingrown toenail troubles, and take care of them comfortably and effectively.

Schedule an appointment at our Indianapolis office by calling (317) 545-0505 or by filling out our online contact form. Don’t forget that we are still scheduling virtual appointments if you prefer to conduct a consultation or follow-up remotely.