Toenail removal

Toenails are usually removed due to severe ingrown toenails. However, on more rare occasions, the procedure can also be used to help treat people with severe and chronic or recurring fungal nail infection, if conservative treatments have failed to solve the problem.

Causes

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the surrounding skin. The area often becomes sore and inflamed and the condition can be very painful. Sometimes, excess thickened skin can develop, along with pus and bleeding. Injuries to the nail, as well as cutting your toenails too short and wearing tight, poorly fitting shoes can all potentially cause ingrown toenails, but many people simply develop them due to the natural shape of their nails and how their toenails grow.

Prevention

Wearing well-fitting footwear, good foot hygiene and measures such as gently pushing the surrounding skin away from the nail using a clean cotton bud can all help, and ingrown toenails sometimes get better on their own. If they don’t improve and are causing significant pain and discomfort, surgery might be required.

The procedure

The procedure is carried out by a specialist consultant on a day case basis, meaning you’ll be able to go home afterwards. A local anaesthetic injection will be administered to the area first, so while you won’t be asleep, you won’t feel any pain. Whether the whole nail, or just a section of it is removed, will depend on the severity of each individual case. Your consultant will discuss this with you beforehand and explain what’s going to happen. Afterwards, an antibiotic solution will be applied and your toe and foot will be dressed and bandaged.

Most people will need at least a couple of days off work, as you’ll need to keep your foot elevated during the initial recovery, and avoid wearing hard shoes. Your toe may also feel sore for a few days – regular painkillers will help if needed.

If your whole toenail is removed, they do grow back again but may look slightly different. Hopefully, the problem won’t recur in the future, but some people do experience further ingrown toenails and may need further treatment.

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