A simple, pain-free treatment for ingrown toenails complicated with granulation tissue

BACKGROUND The treatment of ingrown toenail complicated with granulation tissue is usually partial or total nail avulsion with or without matricectomy. It costs loss of occupa- tional power, however, because most patients cannot go to work or school for some time after surgery, and it is a costly and uncomfortable procedure for most patients.

OBJECTIVE This study aims to find an easy, painless, and inexpensive alternative.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Seven patients with ingrown toenails complicated with granulation tissue are included. A small apparatus was applied on the nails, granulation tissue was chemically cauterized, and a foot bath was recommended twice daily. They were followed on a weekly basis or every other week until recovery. None of the patients received systemic treatment.

RESULTS All loving patients were completely cured without requiring surgery and/or systemic treatment. The procedure did not have any effect on their daily life. The follow-up examination of the patients at 6 months revealed that they were totally cured, and there were no recurrences.

CONCLUSION Patients with ingrown toenails complicated by granulation tissue might have an inexpensive and pain-free treatment alternative, although new studies with more patients are required.

Ingrown toenail is an uncom- fortable condition that call sometimes be complicated with granulation tissue formation.

Possible causes of the condition are considered as ill-fitting foot- wear, hyperhydrosis, improper nail trimming, or excessive external pressure.1,2

Stage 1 ingrown toenails are featured by erythema, mild edema, and pain with pressure to the lateral nail fold. Stage 2 is marked by increased symptoms, drainage, and infection. Stage 3 ingrown toenails display magnified symptoms: granulation tissue and lateral nail fold hypertrophy.1 While conservative management is recommended for Stage 1, for Stages 2 and 3 various surgical measures and/or systemic treat- ment is considered, although the data on the effectiveness of these techniques are sparse.2–10

Materials and Methods

Seven patients, one female and six male aged between 15 and 23 years with recurrent ingrown toenails, all unilateral and compli- cated with granulation tissue formation, applied to our center. The duration of their complaints was between 3 and 5 weeks. They were all refusing to have a surgical intervention, had severe pain on palpation, and were asking for an alternative treatment. All but one male patient had undergone previous surgery for the same problem. Of the six male patients, two were playing basketball at least 3 days a week; one was playing football at least three times a week; and the other two were new graduates from a university, had just started working, and had been wearing dress shoes.

We decided to apply a small app- paratus made of 0.4 mm-thick stainless dental wire with two hook-like pieces attached to each side of the nail, which were connected by a dental string in the middle (Figure 1). The granulation tissue was cauterized by silver nitrate, and they were advised to have foot baths with one tablet of 250 mg potassium permanganate diluted in 2 L of warm water twice daily, for 10 minutes each time. None received oral antibiotics, and they came back once a week for follow-up.

Because these nails are very fragile, to prevent the nail from being torn or broken off, the application of the apparatus was kept loose. The nail apparatus was first applied to the painful side, slightly pulling the granulation tissue laterally, and then to the other edge. The apparatus was fixed by hypoallergenic tape, paying at- tention that the tape was touching only the nail plate but not the adjacent skin.

Finally, granulation tissue was cauterized with silver nitrate. To prevent pain, the adjacent parts were covered with cotton gauze and only the granulation tissue was touched gently. Starting from the next morning, they had foot baths twice daily.

First follow-up visit was planned 3 days later to perform changes in treatment if needed. None of the patients had any trouble, and they were all continuing their daily routine without any pain or other problems; Thus, after the first check-up they were followed up on a weekly basis.

during these controls, first the nail apparatus was checked and changed and then granulation tis- sue was cauterized; the black layer formed by silver nitrate fell off on the fifth or sixth day after cauter-ization so weekly touch-ups were optimal. These weekly treatments were carried on until the granulation tissue was completely re- moved.


Following the application of the apparatus, the patients were im- mediately asked to walk barefoot and also to stand on their toe tips to make sure that they did not have any complaint. Even at the first visit all were completely pain- free right after the apparatus was applied, and from the second week on they started sporting activities without any problem.

They carried on their daily activities and never missed a day from school or work. None of the patches received systemic treatment, antibiotics, or antiinflammatory agents; none required surgery and therefore received no anesthetic medication. The duration of weekly visits was around 10 min- utes. Granulation tissue disap- red at the end of the second week in two patients, at the end of the third week in three patients, and at the end of the fourth week in two patients (Figures 2 and 3).

Patients were called back 1 and 6 months after the cessation of the treatment, and none had any complaint with their toenails.


Although this is a small study, results show that it may be worthy of follow-up with more patients. Applying a special nail apparatus together with silver nitrate and potassium permanganate foot baths may be an inexpensive, easy, and patient-friendly treatment alternative to surgical interventions for ingrown toenails complicated with granulation tissue.


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