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Ingrown Toenails Specialist

Dr. Wenjay Sung

Podiatrist located in Greater Los Angeles, Arcadia, CA

Ingrown Toenails Q & A

What causes ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the soft tissue along the side of the toe instead of growing on the surface of the skin. Ingrown toenails usually are very painful, and without treatment, they can cause infections which can quickly spread and become very serious. They tend to occur more commonly among people who wear tight-fitting shoes and among people whose nails grow in a very curved shape or whose nails are very thick. They can also occur if the toenail is cut into a curved profile instead of being cut straight across. Infections can occur in anyone with an untreated ingrown toenail, but they’re especially common among those with compromised immune systems or circulatory or nerve-related issues, including those with diabetes.

How is an ingrown toenail treated?

Ingrown toenails need to be trimmed back professionally to remove the portion of the nail that’s growing into the skin. Once the nail is trimmed, a small piece of gauze may be used to keep the nail from regrowing into the skin or a special medication can be applied to the skin to prevent nail regrowth in that area. In some severe cases, a large portion of the nail or the entire nail will need to be removed during a simple in-office procedure performed once the toe has been numbed with a local anesthetic. If the area is infected, antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent the infection from spreading.

What causes toenail fungus?

Toenail fungus is caused by tiny fungal bodies called dermatophytes that enter the skin through tiny cuts or abrasions around the nail bed, especially in feet that are damp or moist, which makes skin more pliable and easily penetrated. The fungus tends to live in areas that are warm and damp, like locker room floors and public showers, pools and hot tub areas. It can also be contracted by wearing the shoes or unwashed socks of someone who has toenail fungus. Once the fungus is in the skin, it becomes rooted below the nail which provides a hard, protective barrier. As the fungus develops, it causes the nail to become discolored, brittle and friable, and over time, the nail area can become painful when pressure is applied, especially when wearing shoes. Toenail fungus can affect anyone, but it’s especially common among those with circulation disorders including circulation problems caused by diabetes and among people with compromised immune systems.

Can I treat toenail fungus with over-the-counter products?

Toenail fungus has very deep roots and the hard nail barrier can make it very difficult for over-the-counter products to reach the infection and eradicate the fungus. As a result, these products tend to be ineffective in treating toenail fungus completely. While some may relieve symptoms temporarily, the fungal roots will soon spread and cause the infection to flare up again. Having toenail fungal infections treated professionally is the best way to ensure the fungus is completely destroyed.

What is laser toenail fungus treatment?

Laser toenail fungus treatment uses the highly-focused power of lasers to reach the deeper layers of tissue and the underside of the toenail where the fungus is located. Once the target tissues are reached, the laser energy heats up and destroys the fungal bodies while leaving the surrounding tissue intact. Unlike other professional treatments that require the nail to be removed during treatment, laser toenail fungal treatment allows the nail to remain in place. Plus, laser toenail treatments can be performed right in the office as outpatient procedures without the bleeding associated with more aggressive approaches.