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Dr. Brandon Macy
Podiatrist - Clark, NJ
1114 Raritan Road
Clark, NJ 07066

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Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, occur in situations where the corners or sides of the nail dig into the skin of the nail groove.  When they scratch or break through the skin, that is when an infection can develop.  The causes are often relative to the overall shape of nails which begin to fold over instead of being fairly flat.  This can be due to hereditary factors, foot structure, pressure from shoes, fungus infection or injury.  

Nail trimming can be involved when cutting the edges of the nails. For most normal nails, there is nothing wrong with rounding the corners of the nails VERY slightly as the end of the toe is round and sharp corners of nails cut straight across can dig into the nail groove or the adjacent toe.  However, when a nail tends to curl over, you must be extra careful. Contrary to popular belief, merely cutting the corner of the nail does not by itself cause an ingrown nail, rather if the area has been sore and you attempt to dig a corner out, it is all too common to leave a piece of nail behind at the edge.  This spicule or spike of nail can then act like a knife and can easily break through the skin, causing an infection.

A common ailment, ingrown toenails can be painful. Ingrown toenails start out hard, swollen, and tender. Left untreated, they may become sore, red, and infected and the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail.

In some mild cases, treating ingrown toenails can be simple: soak the foot in warm, soapy water several times each day. Avoid wearing tight shoes or socks.   Unless you can deal with it very easily, it is best to have the problem taken care of professionally.  Sometimes the nail can be cut back with a minimum of pain by the podiatrist.  If an abscess or infection has occurred, the border of the nail needs to be removed utilizing local anesthesia.  This is known as a partial nail avulsion.This will provide prompt relief of the symptoms and do most of the job to clear up the infection.  Oral antibiotics are sometimes prescribed if an infection is severe. If an infection is present, antibiotics alone will not provide more than partial relief.  The offending portion of nail MUST be removed.

For chronically ingrown or misshapen nails, the problem can be corrected permanently by performing what is known as a matrixectomy, or P&A procedure.  Similar to the partial avulsion, the procedure is performed (typically in the office) under local anesthesia.  The entire border of the nail is removed and the underlying nail matrix (also known as the "root" of the nail) is removed or chemically cauterized with phenol in an effort to prevent the removed portion of nail from returning altogether.  Healing time is fairly quick with virtually no disability and the results are excellent and long-lasting.

There's a video of the matrixectomy procedure itself on the website.  It is graphic in nature.

Ingrown toenails can be prevented, up to a point, by:

  • Trimming toenails regularly and essentially straight across with no more than slightly rounded corners.
  • Ensuring that shoes and socks are not too tight.
  • Keeping feet clean at all times.

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1114 Raritan Road
Clark, NJ 07066

Podiatrist - Clark, Dr. Brandon Macy, 1114 Raritan Road, Clark NJ, 07066 732-382-3470