Ingrown toenail removal is a procedure that is sometimes necessary when the typical treatment has not worked. It usually involves removing either the entire nail, or just a portion of it. Either way, this is typically considered a minor surgery that can be performed at a podiatrist's office using a local anesthetic in most cases. The tissue that is cut away has a tendency to grow back, causing another ingrown toenail, which is why many doctors apply a chemical that keeps it from growing back. The affected toe is usually bandaged after the surgery, and should heal within weeks.
Before the surgery begins, a local anesthetic is usually applied so that the toe is numb. In some minor cases requiring ingrown toenail removal, the doctor removes only the area of the nail that is digging into the skin. To prevent it from just growing back and causing the same problem, the doctor usually needs to apply a chemical that stops the removed area from growing into the skin again. Unfortunately, sometimes the entire nail needs to be removed, though a new nail that is somewhat thinner than the previous one should eventually grow. Either way, the toe is typically bandaged for a few weeks while it heals, during which time most patients are given antibiotics to prevent infection.
Ingrown toenail removal is not always necessary, and is in fact usually the last resort. For those who feel pain on the side of their toe, and suspect that an ingrown nail is to blame, the first step is typically to push the nail away from the skin. This is usually easier to do when the skin is soft, such as after soaking the foot in warm water mixed with Epsom salt, which can keep it clean. The nail can then usually be slightly pulled up and away from the skin so that it no longer causes irritation. If there appears to be an infection despite efforts to keep it clean, a doctor can prescribe an antibiotic to apply to it.
Fortunately, this issue can usually be prevented entirely so that patients do not have to experience the ingrown toenail removal procedure. Making sure to cut the nail straight across, including the corners, is one of the best ways to prevent this problem. Wearing shoes that are too small can also create a need for ingrown toenail removal, as the nail usually gets pressed against the skin, eventually growing into it.