Ingrown Toenails – The Spectre Haunting Office Workers

Ingrown Toenails | Self Treatment | Family Podiatry Centre | Best Foot Doctor Podiatrist DPM Clinic Singapore Malaysia

As restrictions slowly wind down in Singapore, companies are starting to call workers back to the office. Urgh, what a drag – time to put on those uncomfortable, tight office shoes again. Be warned, though! Starting to wear those shoes again means that you’re at a higher risk of getting ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenails or onychocryptosis is a painful condition that occurs when the side of the nail pierces through the skin surrounding the nail, or the sulcus. This causes swelling and a painful infection. While mild cases only hurt while wearing shoes, severe cases can be painful to even the slightest touch of a bedsheet. We don’t get nearly enough sleep as it is – wouldn’t want even less because of painful nails.

Aside from teenagers, the other group most vulnerable to getting ingrown toenails is office workers – especially men. Wearing sweaty socks and tight, barely-breathable shoes all day is a recipe for fungal infections and excessive pressure on the nails, both of which can cause ingrown toenails. This goes for women too, who often have to wear tight-fitting shoes with narrow toes, like the typical high heels or stiff lacquered flats. Now that we’re all going back to the office, it’s doubly important to watch out for our foot health!

Going to a pedicurist or trying self-treatment isn’t the way to go, though. For someone untrained in surgery and without the proper tools, it is very difficult to find the root of the ingrown nail and cutting down the side of the nail to do so will create a sharp nail spike instead, which causes an even worse infection and more pain. We always recommend approaching a proper foot doctor to find a treatment for ingrown toenails.

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Fortunately, treating ingrown toenails is easy and safe. A common treatment we provide at Family Podiatry Centre is a partial nail avulsion utilising matrix phenolisation – this procedure takes only 35 minutes and involves removing the damaged part of the nail root (the matrix) so that it never grows back again. This results in a beautifully reshaped nail that is about 3mm narrower in width than before. You can watch videos of our podiatrists performing ingrown toenail surgery on our YouTube channel. It might look scary and gory, but the procedure itself is clean and neat – and performed under anaesthesia for a painless experience. Much less unpleasant than doing surgery on yourself in the bathroom!

Alternatively, you might opt for a conservative, non-surgical treatment which involves removing the ingrown portion of the toenail each time it grows back. On average, this must be done monthly, and takes less than a minute each time. This procedure is considered to be conservative because no local anaesthesia is used. However, depending on the cause of the ingrown toenail, this could go on for years, and the root cause of the problem must eventually be addressed as well. For instance, fungal infections may warp the shape of the nail, which can cause ingrown toenails as a symptom. In this case, the infection needs to be treated for a permanent cure.

We advise visiting a foot doctor to find a cure for your ingrown toenails, as treatments such as over-the-counter topical ointments or nail softeners do not work. Antibiotics will treat the secondary infection caused by the ingrown toenail but will not address the (actual) root of the problem. If your ingrown toenail is becoming a problem for you, visit us for an evaluation and a discussion on which treatment – whether surgery or a conservative option – is best for you.

Written by Mark B. Reyneker
Written by Mark B. Reyneker

Podiatrist 20 years of clinical experience. Practiced in South Africa, Malaysia, and Singapore. Pioneered CAD/CAM custom made orthotics in S.E Asia.

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