The lateral (side) parts of a toenail may be removed to eliminate an ingrown toenail, especially if the same nail becomes repeatedly embedded in the skin. In some instances, removing the entire toenail might be a better strategy than performing a partial removal.
If the ingrown toenail is also affected by fungus, removing the entire nail can be a better option. When you simply have the sides removed, the remaining nail is still infected and you will need a long course of treatment to combat the fungus. When the entire nail is removed, so is the source of infection. Your doctor may apply a medicated ointment to kill any fungus in the nail bed, but it is easier to treat the fungus without the nail in place. Some people choose to go a step further and have the entire nail removed and the nail matrix destroyed so the nail never grows back. This eliminates the risk of preserving the nail, only to have it grow back and become infected again, while simultaneously avoiding another ingrown toenail.
Sometimes the toenails can be damaged and will always grow back crooked, raised from the nail bed, or thickened. Although having the sides of the nail removed will fix the ingrown nail, you may continue to experience other issues if your nail is damaged. For example, people with nails that grow raised from the nail bed may find they frequently snag their toenail, increasing the risk of additional injuries. You may be hesitant to have your toenail removed permanently, but most people find there is not a significant difference between their toe with or without a nail. Once the area heals, it may be virtually indistinguishable from the other toes, unless someone is taking a close look at your toes.
Excess Soft Tissue
Repeated ingrown toenails and infections can cause excess soft tissue to develop around the nail. This excess tissue exacerbates the problem with ingrown nails and makes it even easier for ingrown toenails to reoccur. When there is excess tissue, your doctor will want to remove the abnormal tissue at the same time they remove the ingrown toenail. Much like other ongoing toenail issues, you may choose to have the toenail removed with or without destroying the nail matrix. With sufficient tissue removal and normal healing, the nail may regrow normally and no longer embed in the skin. People who had frequent issues with the same toenail may rather have all the nail matrix destroyed and not have the concern in the future.
There can be some additional toenail concerns that make complete removal of the toenail a better option than partial removal. With complete removal, there are no more concerns about future ingrown nails or toenail fungus. For more information about ingrown toenail treatments, contact a physician in your area like Paul Greenberg.