Ingrown Toenail Treatments Can Vary Significantly

Updated on December 28, 2016
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Dreamworker has spent years studying and dealing successfully with a number of health issues.

There are a number of ways that doctors help their patients treat ingrown toenails, but much depends on how advanced the problem has become.

Many doctors feel that partial or full toenail removal is the only answer, but performing this procedure is not always necessary.

This is why it is very important that you, as the patient, understand that you do have options other than surgery, given the right circumstances.

What is the best way to treat this ingrown toenail?
What is the best way to treat this ingrown toenail? | Source

Podiatrists Often Disagree About Treatment

I was very surprised after writing my article "My Ingrown Toenail Adventure" to learn just how widespread the problem of ingrown toenails is.

I was even more surprised to learn, after seeing several doctors about this issue, to learn that there is a great deal of disagreement in the medical community with regards to what ingrown toenails are, and which methods should be used to treat them.

Just about every podiatrist agrees about the causes of this ailment, but that is where the compatibility of their views ends.

Diagnosis and Treatment Can Be Tricky

There has been considerable discussion among doctors recently as to whether many of them are actually misdiagnosing this problem.

While some choose to think that the toenail curves into the skin around the nail, others think that the skin around the nail, in many cases, becomes excessive and grows up around the nail!

In the first situation, the normal procedure many doctors use is to cut away part or all of the toenail, but in the second, it is the skin surrounding the nail that is cut back.

This second type of surgery is more involved, more painful, and takes more time to heal. It is not recommended for diabetics or anyone over the age of 18.

Furthermore, there has been quite a lot of research about the situations where the problem actually is an ingrown toenail.

Many doctors think that removing part or all of the nail is excessive and is only necessary if the nail becomes infected.

Other doctors push for immediate removal.

Thus, the issue of diagnosing and treating ingrown toenails can become very confusing for patients.

An ingrown toenail can lead to serious problems, especially for people who suffer from diabetes.
An ingrown toenail can lead to serious problems, especially for people who suffer from diabetes. | Source

Removal Can Cause Serious Problems

There are several reasons why partial or total nail removal is problematic.

  1. In some instances, the nail can grow back, making repetition of the toenail removal process necessary.
  2. Partial or total toenail removal requires a series of painful numbing shots in the toe.
  3. Toenail removal can lead to infections.

These reasons, as well as costs, are the very ones that keep people with ingrown toenails away from doctor's offices.

Instead, many choose to use a variety of home remedies in an effort to eliminate their discomfort.

Home Remedies Can Sometimes Be Dangerous

The problem with self-treatment for ingrown toenails is that cutting into the feet can lead to very serious complications.

In fact, this can happen even by accidentally cutting your feet when you walk barefoot.

An acquaintance of mine recently stepped on something that caused an infection in his foot that the doctors could not contain. After more than four months in ICU, several amputations and more than two million dollars in medical bills, he died.

The lesson here is pretty clear.

Do not cut your feet.

If your ingrown toenails have gotten to the point where they are very painful, let a doctor do any necessary cutting for you so that you can avoid infections.

After doing that, follow the advice below for keeping your toenails from hurting. It works, and it does not involve cutting.

A doctor's viewpoint can make a big difference in the health of a patient's feet.
A doctor's viewpoint can make a big difference in the health of a patient's feet. | Source

A Doctor's Approach Is Very Important

How a podiatrist chooses to deal with ingrown toenails can make a big difference in the level of discomfort, pain, and suffering a patient feels.

  • Some podiatrists keep patients coming back every six weeks so that they can trim the toenails back to reduce pain.
  • Those who subscribe to the excess skin theory actually put their patients through costly surgeries.
  • Others push their patients into having partial or total toenail removal, even though there is only minimal pain and no signs of infection.

Ironically, any ethical podiatrist will tell patients that unless they are diabetic, are having a great deal of ongoing pain or are showing signs of infection, none of these treatments are generally necessary!

Furthermore, he or she will inform patients that they can often deal with the issue of ingrown toenails themselves, as long as they catch the problem early.

A Doctor's Advice for Self-Treatment

A good podiatrist will advise patients that the best way for people to take care of their ingrown toenails is to:

  • soak feet regularly in a mixture of one part white or cider vinegar and two parts water or a mixture of one cup of Epsom salts to a half gallon of warm water.
  • Use a sterilized orange stick to slightly lift the edge of the nail from the nail bed.
  • File the portion of the ingrown toenail that is digging into your toe back before it has a chance to grow out and curve into the skin any further.

Before following this advice, remember it is only for use by non-diabetic people who are not suffering intense pain or infection and whose ingrown toenails are in their early stages.

Doctors Need to Find Common Ground

For far too long, podiatrists have disagreed about the diagnosis and treatment of ingrown toenails. Because of their differing approaches, they have caused a great deal confusion and problems for patients.

They have the right to their opinions, of course, but they should remember that it is the patient—and not the doctor—who suffers when ingrown toenails are not appropriately treated.

Just remember that there are several treatment options for this condition, not only one. Do your homework so that you choose well.

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    © 2015 Sondra Rochelle

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