Ingrown toenails can be frustrating and painful, interfering with your ability to follow through on daily activities. If you continue to leave an ingrown toenail untreated, it can easily become infected and lead to unpleasant complications. One solution to this problematic situation is a matrixectomy.  Matrixectomy for ingrown toenails

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Typically, an ingrown toenail develops when the top corner or side of the nail grows into the flesh near it and is most common in the big toe. Ingrown toenails can be caused by many factors, and being aware of them can help prevent a matrixectomy.

Some Causes of Ingrown Toenails

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes. If your shoes are too tight around your toe region, it can press the nail tightly against the skin and cause irritation and inward growth.
  • Cutting toenails incorrectly. If you cut your toenails too short or with too much of a curve, it can cause an ingrown nail. Try to trim nails gradually, keep the cut away from the skin, and trim them as straight across as possible.
  • Suffering a toe or nail injury. A variety of toe injuries can cause an ingrown nail to develop. This includes banging your toe into furniture, stubbing it on a threshold, dropping something heavy on your foot, or snagging your toe on something that causes the nail to tear.
  • Experiencing natural curvature. Sometimes an individual is just predisposed to ingrown toenails, especially if your nails naturally curve. Regular trimming and pedicures can help. 

The Matrixectomy Procedure

Matrixectomy is a procedure that removes the problem portion of an ingrown toenail. When a toenail curves and begins to dig into the skin, it can be painful and lead to infection and other complications. A matrixectomy helps prevent the ingrown nail from returning. Our skilled podiatrists explain this outpatient procedure.

What to Expect

  • The podiatrist places a constricting band around your toe to reduce blood flow.
  • The podiatrist administers an anesthetic to numb your toe.
  • The podiatrist will perform a pain test to ensure the toe is completely numb. You might feel pressure, but you should not feel pain. 
  • The podiatrist lifts the ingrown piece of the nail out from under the edge of the skin.
  • The podiatrist cuts a straight line through this piece of nail from the tip to the root.
  • The podiatrist removes this piece of the nail completely.
  • The podiatrist will treat the “nail matrix” or base of the nail with cotton swabs dipped in a chemical solution that will scar the matrix to ensure the nail will not grow again.  

A matrixectomy provides a permanent solution to an ingrown toenail; however, it also means that portion of nail will never grow back normally. The procedure may leave you with a somewhat narrower toenail. Within a few weeks, the toe should be healed.

Matrixectomy Aftercare

Matrixectomy is a routine procedure for skilled podiatrists that typically lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. Most patients walk out of the office in their street shoes afterward. However, there is important aftercare to be aware of.

What to Do After the Procedure

  • Soak regularly. Some podiatrists will encourage you to regularly soak the affected area after the procedure. Some will provide you with a special type of bandage instead to promote healing.
  • Check for redness and drainage. The chemical used to destroy future growth can cause irritation as well as an output of fluid. Many confuse this with infection and grow concerned.
  • Wear open-toed shoes. For approximately two weeks after surgery, give your toe space to heal. Wearing open-toed shoes can help.
  • Clean your toe following the procedure. Use warm, soapy water 24 hours after the matrixectomy to clean your toe.
  • Avoid running. It’s important to avoid running and/or strenuous activity for about two weeks following the procedure.
  • Take your medication. Be sure to take your oral antibiotics if your doctor prescribes them. You will usually receive these if the toenail was already infected.

Who Can Get a Matrixectomy?

Some ingrown toenails can be treated without a matrixectomy. You can try to cut away the ingrown nail yourself, or soak it to soften the nail. However, complications like skin infections may lead to surgery. A podiatrist might recommend a matrixectomy if at-home remedies have not resolved the issue, you’ve had multiple ingrown toenails, or you have a condition such as diabetes that will increase your risk of complications

A matrixectomy can benefit anyone who is struggling with the pain and inconvenience of ingrown toenails, including both children and adults. Even very young children have experienced this difficult condition and have found relief through this procedure.

Are You Looking for an Ingrown Toenails Specialist in Austin, TX?

If you are looking for ingrown toenails care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.


Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist
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