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Ingrown toenail removal – discharge

Definition

You had surgery to remove part or all of your toenail. This was done to relieve pain and discomfort due to an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails can occurs when the edge of your toenail grows into the skin of the toe.

Alternative Names

Onychocryptosis surgery; Onychomycosis; Unguis incarnates surgery; Ingrown toenail removal; Toenail

When You're in the Hospital

The health care provider will most often numb your toe with a local anesthesia before the procedure starts. The provider will cut the part of the nail that has grown into the skin of the toe. Either part of the nail or the entire nail will have been removed.

The surgery took an hour or less and your provider has covered the wound with a bandage. You can go home the same day.

What to Expect at Home

You may feel pain once the pain-numbing medicine wears off. Take the pain reliever your provider recommends.

You may notice:

  • Some swelling in your foot
  • Light bleeding
  • A yellow-colored discharge from the wound

At home you should:

  • Keep your feet raised above the level of your heart to reduce swelling
  • Rest your foot and avoid moving it
  • Keep your wound clean and dry

Dressing

Change the dressing about 12 to 24 hours after the surgery. Follow your provider's instructions for changing the dressing. Your provider may recommend soaking your foot in warm water before removing the dressing. This helps the bandage not stick to the wound.

Change the dressing once or twice a day or as suggested by your provider.

Foot Bath

Soak your feet 2 to 3 times a day in the bath containing:

  • Epsom salts - to relieve swelling and inflammation
  • Betadine - an antibiotic to help reduce the risk of infection

Dry your feet and apply antibiotic ointment your provider has given you. Dress the wound to keep it clean.

Activity

Try to reduce activity and rest your foot. Avoid bumping your toe or putting a lot of pressure on it. You may want to wear open-toed shoes. If wearing closed shoes, make sure they are not too tight. Wear cotton socks.

You may need to do this for about 2 weeks.

You can likely resume your normal activities within a week. Getting back to sports may take a little longer.

Keep your wound covered both day and night in the first week. You can let your toe remain uncovered at night in the second week. This helps the wound heal.

See your provider again in 2 to 3 days or as recommended.

Prevention

The toenail may grow inward again. To prevent this, follow these tips:

  • Don't wear tight-fitting shoes or high heels
  • Don't trim your nails too short or round the corners
  • Don't pick or tear at the corners of the nails

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you notice:

  • Your toenail is not healing
  • Fever
  • Pain, even after taking pain-relief medicine
  • Bleeding from the toenail
  • Pus from the toenail
  • Swelling or redness of the toe or foot
  • Regrowth of the nail into the skin of the toe

References

McGee DL. Podiatric procedures. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 51.

Pollock M. Ingrown toenails. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby 2011:chap 29.

Safran MR, Zachazewski J, Stone DA. Ingrown toenail. In: Safran MR, Zachazewski J, Stone DA, eds. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:525-526.

Review Date:12/10/2016
Reviewed By:Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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