Part C – Postsurgical Care of Ingrown Toenails
Welcome to the postsurgical care segment of our 3-part series, The ABC’s of Ingrown Toenail Surgery. In Part A you learned about the anatomy and manifestation of an ingrown toenail, and in Part B we emphasized surgery basics and the urgency of an hour spent in the podiatrist’s office when your symptoms have gotten out of control.
Now you’ve visited your podiatrist and resolved your ingrown toenail condition with an in-office procedure; the matrixectomy. Maybe a few extra steps were required in your individual case, but it’s over, and your new path is recuperation and rejuvenation.
Postsurgical Care Matters
An in-office procedure is something you walk away from when it’s finished. No hospital stay, nurse attendants, constant sleep interruption, beeping machines, IVs, and no tasteless kindergarten food. You’re back at work, and sleeping in your own bed, with the kids’ voices within earshot, and the pets on your lap. Home is good.
At the same time, you will be given instructions which are vital to attend to. The more compliant you are with the directions that you have been given, the faster and more thorough will be your healing. Should you fail to soak, as below, the nail which is dissolving (according to plan) will instead get caught beneath the skin – and then you’re back to pain, redness and swelling!
- Soak the treated area 3 times a day in warm water and Epsom Salt (follow package instructions) starting the day after your nail surgery. Your shower can count as 1 of those soakings.
- Soak the toe with the bandage on. If the bandage is still in place on the 3rd day, remove it.
- Follow all soakings with application of an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin and a Band-aid.
- When soaking, use your finger to pull the nail fold (skin) away from the nail. This will help to open any scar tissue that has formed in the area and allow the warm water to clean the surgical area.
- Continue this treatment until your follow‐up appointment.
- Ice the area for 10 minutes and take 600mg of ibuprofen every 8 hours if you have pain.
- Narcotics are not dispensed for pain from postsurgical ingrown toenail procedures; if your pain is excessive, please go to the emergency room.
Getting Back to Normal
Once your podiatrist has given you the ‘go ahead,’ you can return to regular activities. However, now that you’ve experienced the effects of a painful foot condition it’s not something you want to go through again, not if you can help it. Respect for your feet and the support, balance, and strength they provide your body is a good place to start.
Focus on the proper care and grooming of your feet. Check out our very detailed video: Caution: Pedicures Can Be Harmful to Your Health. Make the appropriate shoe choices for your foot’s structure (high arches, flat feet, etc.), learn to lace your sneakers for proper support, and choose the right socks for healthy feet. Strengthen your feet with flexibility exercises.
Elizabeth E. Auger, DM has been a practicing holistic podiatrist in Salt Lake City for nearly two decades, and as an athlete herself, Dr. Auger is especially knowledgeable in the area of sports injuries. She takes all new patients, offering personalized foot care solutions for those with a sedentary lifestyle or in a rehabilitative state, from infants to senior citizens.