Common Toenail Problems FAQs

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In my years of practice as a podiatrist, I have encountered countless toenail problems.  Each patient has unique circumstances, so I always treat each patient as an individual.  Having said that, there are definitely times when I hear a similar story about how a patient wound up in the office with a toenail problem.  Here are a few questions I’ve received recently that are somewhat frequent regarding toenail conditions, specifically ingrown toenails and nail fungus.

My teenager is constantly picking at his ingrown toenail!  Isn’t there a permanent solution?

Yes, there is! Most ingrown nails result from an incurvation of the nail into the surrounding skin as it grows out from the root.  As the nail digs into the skin, it develops into a localized infection which can become quite intense and must be treated promptly.  Provided the patient’s general health is good, a simple in-office procedure can rid him of this chronic condition.  Under local anesthetic, the nail border is removed and the matrix or nail root is destroyed.  Most patients experience little discomfort with this procedure and the toe will heal in a week or two.

I have a thick, discolored toenail on my big toe.  I’m pretty sure I have a fungus.  Does that mean I have to have my toenail removed?

No, not necessarily.  New technology is available today that treats fungus with an FDA approved laser procedure, called Q-Clear.  This treatment is not painful; patented technology kills the pathogens that cause toenail fungus through high intensity pulses of light that penetrate the nail.  Healthy tissue is unaffected.  Some fungal infections can also be treated with oral prescription medication, but follow-up blood work may be required with this option.  Both of these options don’t require toenail removal!

I get pedicures regularly, and my nail technician mentioned that I might want to see a podiatrist about my toenails.  What does that mean?

Many nail technicians have been trained to spot certain foot and toe conditions that they are not qualified to treat.  Your technician may have spotted what she thinks might be an ingrown toenail, a nail fungus, or a variety of other possibilities.  It may also be that you have a thick toenail that is difficult to trim or cut with the tools of his/her trade.  A podiatrist is equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to treat specific toenail conditions.

If you have questions about your toenails, it’s always better to ask and err on the side of caution.  There are no stupid questions.  If you find yourself thinking more and more about an abnormal toenail, go ahead and give us a call!  We’re here to help.  If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, click here.


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