27 Oct How to Recognize Signs of Infection After Ingrown Toenail Surgery
Cutting toenails short on the sides can lead to ingrown toenails where the edges of the nail that grows back do so by curling into the skin of the toe. This can lead to severe pain, and possible infection and/or disability. The management of symptomatic ingrown toenails includes surgically cutting out the edges of the affected nail up to end of the nail, called the nail bed. The entire nail can also be removed if the condition is severe. This gives the toenails the opportunity to grow straight again and not dig into the soft tissue of the digit. The surgery can be performed under either local or general anesthetic and the choice will depend on the patient’s age, medical history, and circumstances. An important aspect of the post-surgical care here is recognizing signs of infection after ingrown toenail surgery is performed.
Some pain after toenail removal may be experienced once the numbing medication starts to wear off and this can be countered by using pain medication. There are a couple of things that one should just be aware of after the surgery and these include that the foot may appear swollen, there can be some mild bleeding from the wound, and a yellow-colored discharge may also appear.
Ingrown toenail surgery recovery includes incorporating measures to prevent an infection from occurring such as changing the dressing of the wound every 12 to 24 hours after the procedure, and soaking the foot in warm water in order to carefully remove the dressings without causing excessive bleeding from the wound. Epsom salts can be added to the water to help relieve inflammation and swelling of the foot. Betadine can also be added to the water to help decrease the risk of developing an infection. The feet should then be dried carefully and an antibiotic ointment should be applied to the wound before the application of a new dressing.
As long as one follows the post-surgical wound care measures suggested by the doctor or wound nurse, then the risk of developing an infection decreases.
Signs of infection
There are certain signs though that should be looked out for and if they appear the patient should consult with the doctor who performed the procedure. These signs include the following:
- Developing a fever.
- Noticing that the toenail wound is not healing.
- Continued pain in the toe despite taking an appropriate dose of pain medication.
- Persistent bleeding from the digit.
- Pus draining from the wound.
- Increased redness or swelling of the foot or toe.
- Regrowth of the nail into the skin of the toe.
The patient may have to receive a course of oral antibiotics to manage the active infection in the toe. This course will usually be prescribed for up to two weeks because it takes the medication longer to work for an infection in the foot. Severe cases of post-surgical infection may warrant hospitalization and administration of intravenous antibiotics and possibly surgical debridement (removal) of infected tissue.