Why do you have an ingrown toenail?

Poor nail cutting technique can result in the nail being cut too far down on one side, creating a small spike of nail which pierces the skin and results in the ingrown toenail.

– Incorrectly fitted shoes, not allowing enough space for the nail to grow.

– A trauma to the toe caused by an injury, repeated pressure during walking or running causing disfigurement to the toe or nail.

– If your nail is wide or overly curved it can push down onto and pierce the surrounding skin. Once the toenail has pushed through the skin, the body identifies it as a foreign object leading to redness, swelling and pain while the broken skin increases the risk of infection. For this type of nail, that grows-in regularly, surgical intervention is the best option.

Can I walk after I have the surgery? Yes, you can walk straight away. Your toe will be numb for up to a couple of hours after you have the procedure. Please bring along an open-toed shoe to wear home or in Canberra’s cold winter, cut out the front of an old pair of joggers and bring socks. We recommend you get a responsible adult to drive you home, and then try and elevate the foot as much as possible for the next 24 to 48 hours. The dressing is sterile and MUST be kept DRY in the shower. We recommend a ‘bird bath’ for the first day or so.

Is the surgery painful? Advances in techniques over the years have allowed podiatrists to use local anaesthesia to produce a highly effective ‘block’ of your toe so that there is absolutely no discomfort or pain during or immediately after the procedure. There are typically two injections given in the base of the toe. After that, there will be no pain at all whilst the procedure is undertaken.

Will I have post-operative Pain? As there is no cutting through the skin or stitches, the procedure preferred at the Canberra Ingrown Toenail Clinic rarely causes a lot of post-operative pain. It is almost like a form of ‘keyhole’ surgery. Most patients will manage their discomfort with simple over the counter pain medication, and

elevation and rest. This usually lasts for the first 24 -48 hours at the most, and in our experience, it is rare for patients to complain of any significant pain.

Time Off work after surgery? The amount of time off required varies depending on your occupation and work duties. Many people will be able to return to office-based work within 1-2 days, but more high demand occupations (eg. tradesman, nurses, teachers) may require a few extra days of rest and elevation. Your podiatrist will provide you with detailed advice on returning to work, we can supply you with a Medical Certificate after the procedure. School-aged children are advised to have 3-4 days off school so that the toe does not get traumatised in the playground.

Written By: Luke Doyle, Podiatrist

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