Matrixectomy: Why You Might Need a Permanent Toenail Removal

Matrixectomy is a permanent toenail removal procedure that aims to treat ingrown toenails. Learn more about what to expect from the procedure here.

Published on
December 2, 2022
Image of matrixectomy being performed on big toe of right foot

Ingrown toenails are a common foot problem where your nail grows into the surrounding skin. Over time, an ingrown can become infected and painful, which can affect your daily activities. If you have an ingrown toenail, you’ll need a matrixectomy to remove the part of your nail that has entered the skin. 

What Exactly Is a Matrixectomy?

The nail matrix is the base or root of your nail where your fingernails or toenails start growing. It creates new cells that push old, dead skin cells to the surface to form the nail plate over the nail bed. The nail plate is the visible part of your nail.

Some people develop curved nails, which can grow into the skin. In others, an injury, wearing tight shoes, picking at your nail, or cutting off deep pieces of the nail can lead to ingrown nails. If you have ingrown toenails, your nails curve and grow into the surrounding skin, which can be painful. They are treated by partially or entirely removing your nail matrix. 

Matrixectomy is a toenail removal procedure used to treat ingrown toenails. It involves surgically or chemically removing your nail plate and the nail matrix. It is a quick procedure that requires only a few minutes. It relieves your pain and discomfort and prevents your ingrown toenail from returning. 

Why Is a Matrixectomy an Effective Treatment for Ingrown Toenails?

Ingrown toenails are not dangerous. But they increase your risk of foot infection and other complications. They can hurt and affect your daily activities if they’re left untreated. 

If you try to cut out the ingrown portion at home, it may grow back and increase your chances of toenail infection. It’s better to see a foot doctor or a podiatrist to treat the ingrown toenail safely. Some doctors may lift the nail with a splint, tape it to pull the skin away, and remove the ingrown part from the nail plate. However, these techniques are temporary as the toenail can grow back misshapen, resulting in ingrown toenails yet again. 

Matrixectomy is a more effective treatment for ingrown nails because it prevents your nails from growing back into the skin. Unlike other treatments, it removes the portion of the toenail stuck inside the skin from its root and cures it permanently. The matrixectomy procedure is simple, quick, and safe with a 95% success rate. 

Complete vs. Partial Toenail Removal

The affected part and severity of the ingrown toenail will determine how much of your nail needs to be removed. Your doctor may suggest complete or partial matrixectomy to treat your ingrown toenails. 

Complete matrixectomy or total nail avulsion involves the removal of your entire nail plate and the nail matrix. This may be required if you have severely ingrown toenails, toenail infection, a split in the nail, or abnormal nail growth. But it can result in permanent loss of your toenail.  

Your doctor typically performs partial matrixectomy or partial nail avulsion for ingrown nails. It helps remove a section of your ingrown nail plate and the nail matrix. For example, one-third of the nail will be removed, leaving you with a narrower toenail. 

What To Expect When Getting a Matrixectomy

A matrixectomy is a minor or minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require cuts and stitches. It can easily be done in your doctor’s office. 

Preparing for the Procedure

To prepare for a matrixectomy, your doctor will ask you to sit comfortably in the chair at their office. They’ll clean your toe properly and wrap an elastic band or tourniquet around the area where your toe joins the foot. It helps reduce blood flow and prevent excessive bleeding. The surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into your toe to numb the area. 

During the Procedure

Once the anesthetic is given, your doctor will ensure that your toe is completely numb. They’ll use an instrument to gently pull out the curved or ingrown part of your nail plate. They may also place a splint or wedge under your nail to lift and expose the ingrown section. They will cut the nail along the length to remove the ingrown section. The nail bed and the base are then exposed. 

The doctor will then treat the exposed area of your nail with a chemical. This process is called chemical matrixectomy or cauterization. The most commonly used chemical for this procedure is phenol. But some may use sodium hydroxide or trichloroacetic acid. 

Your doctor will hold cotton swabs dipped in the chemical solution against the exposed part for a few seconds. The chemical spreads to the base where the nail matrix lies. It burns and destroys remaining nail tissues to prevent abnormal nail growth and ingrown nails from returning. It ensures that your nails are cured permanently. 

After the Procedure

The matrixectomy procedure takes only 10 to 15 minutes. After treatment, the doctor will remove the elastic band and clean the treated area. The effects of the anesthesia given to you during the procedure will wear off within 6 to 24 hours.

You may notice some redness and bleeding in the treated part, but this is normal. Your doctor may wrap your toe in a bandage or dressing to prevent infection and bleeding, and promote healing. In case of too much bleeding, you or your doctor can change the dressing. Your doctor may also give you medications to prevent pain.

The matrixectomy recovery period is about 2 to 4 weeks. By then, your toe will be completely healed. Until then, you must keep the treated area clean and open.

If you’ve had a partial matrixectomy, you will now have a straight but slightly narrower toenail with a better appearance than a curved, ingrown one. After a complete matrixectomy, you won’t have a nail. But the problem will be fixed permanently. 

Ask Your Podiatrist if a Matrixectomy Is Right for You

Matrixectomy is an effective procedure for the permanent removal of ingrown toenails. If you have curved or ingrown nails, consult your podiatrist to find out if matrixectomy is the right treatment option for you. 

But if you want to prevent ingrown nails, ensure that you trim your toenails, wear breathable shoes that fit you, and use protective footwear. Also, check out The Toe Bro’s collection of foot products to maintain your foot health and prevent problems like ingrown toenails.

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Related blog post

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails Effectively

You may have heard of ingrown toenails and how annoying and painful they can be. They can eventually cause serious issues for your feet, so it's important to know how to prevent ingrown toenails.

But what causes ingrown toenails, and how can you fix them if you've already got them? We'll answer these questions in this article.

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails: 3 Tips

Ingrown toenails occur when the corner or side of your nails grow into your toes' soft nail beds. They may also form when the skin on the side of your nails grows over the nail edges. They can cause swelling, tenderness and pain, and even severe infection.

This common condition can occur to anyone who doesn't care for their feet properly. However, teenagers and people with diabetes or other medical conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet are more likely to have ingrown nails. 

Thankfully, you can prevent ingrown toenails. One of the best ways to avoid ingrown toenails is to practice proper foot care. There are three main ways you can take care of your feet.

1. Inspect Your Foot Regularly

Prevention is the best cure, so make sure you inspect your feet regularly to prevent any potential issues before they arise. You may be able to spot a nail curving improperly and trim it before it grows into your skin.

2. Keep the Feet Clean and Dry

Feet sweat throughout the day, creating perfect conditions for harmful fungi to multiply. This can also soften your nail bed, making it easier for your toenails to sink into the skin. 

Pay special attention to your feet when you take a bath or shower. Clean in between the toes and around the toenails thoroughly with warm soapy water. Dry your feet completely once you're done, and don't forget the same places you washed.

3. Visit Your Foot Doctor Regularly

Your feet are just as important as the rest of your body, so make sure you visit your podiatrist for regular checkups. 

They will be able to catch any issues in the early stages and remedy them. They'll also show you additional ways to care for your feet to avoid common foot conditions.

But how can you prevent ingrown toenails specifically?

Steps To Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are often caused by excessive pressure, improper nail trimming, and genetics. Thankfully, there are specific steps you can take to avoid these three conditions and ingrown nails by extension.

Avoid Tight-Fitting Shoes

Your shoe fit directly impacts your foot health and the chance of growing ingrown toenails. 

Tight shoes cause ingrown nails by exerting excessive pressure on your toes. They will force the nails into the skin of your nail bed or make them curve in on themselves. 

So make sure you've got comfortable shoes that fit properly. You should be able to fit a finger between the top of your toes and your shoe.

You may also choose open-toed shoes often to eliminate the risk of pinching or pressure. However, you should wear protective shoes like steel-toed sneakers or boots if you're doing activities that may cause trauma to your toe.

Stop Improper Nail Trimming

Many people use toenail clippers to trim and shape their toenails into a curved shape, but this actually damages the toes. You may think that curved toenails look attractive, but they increase your risk of getting an ingrown toenail. 

Instead of curving the toenails to match your toe shape, you should trim them straight across. You can use a nail file or emery board to round the corners gently.

You should also trim your nails to the proper length, just to the tip of the toe. Toenails that are too long will begin to curl in on themselves and dig into your skin, and pressure from your shoes may cause too-short toenails to grow into your nail tissue.

Understand Your Genetic Predisposition

You may be surprised to learn that the tendency for ingrown toenails can be inherited. How so?

Well, your toe and nail shape are passed down genetically. You may also inherit conditions that affect the toe shape or foot circulation, such as arthritis and diabetes.

Ingrown toenails may occur due to these genetic factors. So while ingrown nails themselves are not genetic, these genetic factors can make you more susceptible if someone in your family line suffers from ingrown toenails. 

When you know that you're genetically predisposed to ingrown nails, you can take active steps to prevent them before they even form.

Ingrown Toenail Treatment

It's important to know how to fix an ingrown toenail, so you don't risk excessive pain and infection. There are two simple ways you can treat ingrown nails.

Soak in Warm Water

Soak the affected foot in warm water several times a day. This will keep the nail and skin around it soft and hydrated, preventing the nail from digging into the skin too firmly.

If this doesn't work after a few days, you'll need to see a foot doctor to treat your ingrown nail.

See a Foot Specialist

Don't try DIY surgery on your ingrown toenail. Go see your foot specialist, also known as a podiatrist. They will know how to treat the ingrown toenail.

They may prescribe an antibiotic cream if they detect any signs of infection. They'll also give you pain relievers if your symptoms are severe.

They may suggest surgical removal of part or all of the infected ingrown toenail. There's no need to worry — the procedure is straightforward, and you'll be numbed for the entire process.

Avoid Painful Ingrown Toenails by Maintaining Your Foot Health

Ingrown toenails can be painful and cause a host of foot problems. Thankfully, you can avoid ingrown nails by avoiding tight-fitting shoes, trimming your nails properly, and understanding your genetic predisposition. If you've already got an ingrown toenail, you can soak it in warm water or visit your foot specialist for professional treatment.

Maintaining foot health keeps your toes and feet looking and feeling their best. One of the ways you can maintain foot health is to use tools and products specially designed for the foot. 

The Toe Bro offers a wide range of high-quality, specialized foot products to prevent and treat common foot conditions. Take a look at our collection to begin your journey to happy, healthy feet today!

Ingrown Toenail: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Are you having pain in one of your toes near the nail bed? If so, you may have an ingrown toenail. We all have heard how annoying and painful they can be.

But exactly what is an ingrown toenail, and is there anything you can do to fix it? In this article, we'll discuss the symptoms of an ingrown nail. We'll also look at some ways to prevent and treat it.

What's an Ingrown Toenail?

Ingrown toenails occur when the side or corner of a nail grows into the soft flesh of your toe's nail bed. They may also occur when the skin on the side of the nail grows over the nail edge. They dig into the flesh, causing irritation over time.

Who can get an ingrown nail? 

It is a common condition, so anyone who does not take care of their feet properly is at risk of getting it. Ingrown toenails can be caused by external factors such as:

  • Shoes that are too tight
  • Improper nail trimming 
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Toenail injury

However, adolescents and people with diabetes or other medical conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet are at a greater risk of having ingrown toenails.

Symptoms of an Ingrown Nail

Some common symptoms of ingrown nails include:

  • Inflamed skin
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Swelling

You may even get a nail root infection (paronychia). This occurs when a piece of nail cuts into the skin and leaves an opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin. It most often occurs as severe swelling and pain at the nail root. If left untreated, infections can become severe.

So how can you treat ingrown toenails?

Ingrown Toenail Treatment Options

It's important to know how to treat an ingrown toenail so you can avoid harmful complications. Thankfully, there are some effective treatment options for your ingrown nail.

Try at Home Foot Care Remedies

While you don't want to risk infection by pulling out ingrown nails yourself, there are some preventive home remedies you can try to treat them.

Soak your affected foot in warm water 3-4 times a day. This will keep your nail and the surrounding skin soft and hydrated so the nail doesn't dig into the skin too firmly.

You may also make packing at home by gently lifting the nail tip and inserting cotton between your skin and the nail.

If your ingrown nail doesn't get better within two to three days after you start these remedies, you need to visit your podiatrist.

Visit a Foot Specialist

A doctor crossing his arms and holding a stethoscope

If you have a severely painful ingrown nail or an ingrown toenail infection, it may be best to visit your foot specialist for ingrown toenail treatment.

The podiatrist will probably prescribe oral antibiotics to fight the harmful bacteria. 

You may need nail surgery to partially or completely remove the infected nail. The doctor may also have to remove a small portion of the nail bed, some of the surrounding soft tissue, and a portion of the growth center. 

This may sound painful, but you will be numbed and the procedure is straightforward. Nail surgery will eliminate the nail edge from growing inward and cutting into the flesh as your toenail regrows forward.

Whatever your podiatrist recommends, it is best to follow their medical advice.  

Techniques for Ingrown Toenail Prevention

You should do your best to prevent the growth of ingrown toenails so you can spare yourself the pain and hassle of treating them. There are several methods you can use to prevent ingrown toenails from growing.

Trim Toenails Correctly

Close-up of nail clippers on a grey background

One of the best ways to prevent an ingrown toenail is through a good foot care routine. 

Curved toenails may look attractive, but they are not good for your toes and increase your risk of getting an ingrown nail. 

Instead of curving the nails to match the shape of your toe, you want to use a nail clipper to trim them straight across. You can then use an emery board or nail file to gently round the corners. 

You also want to make sure the toenails aren't too long or too short. If they're too long, there's a high risk they will begin to curl in and dig into the skin. If they're too short, pressure from your shoes may cause a nail to start growing into the tissue. 

It's best to trim your toenails so they're even with the tips of your toes. This will keep them from curling or being pressed into the soft tissue of your nail bed.

Avoid Tight Fitting Shoes

Comfy shoes laying down on a beige carpet

Tight-fitting shoes are harmful to your feet in several ways, and one of the effects is ingrown toenails. Tight shoes pinch your toes and place too much pressure on them, causing your nails to grow into soft tissue. 

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. 

Most people have one foot that's bigger than the other, so use your biggest foot as the measuring standard for your shoes. They should fit your heel, ball of your foot, and top of your toes comfortably without too much pressure.

A good rule of thumb is to have a fourth of an inch of space between the top and front of your toes and the shoe. This should be enough for you to fit a finger through.

Open-toed shoes are another great option to eliminate the risk of pressure, pinching, or excessive perspiration. But make sure you wear protective shoes like steel-toed boots or sneakers if you're doing activities that may injure your toes.

Keep Your Toes Looking and Feeling Their Best

Close-up of a woman's red nails

Ingrown toenails can be unsightly and painful. Proper foot health and a good foot care routine are the best preventers of ingrown toenails. 

So make sure you trim your toenails properly, wear comfortable shoes, use safe home remedies, and visit a foot specialist if you notice an ingrown nail. Your feet will look and feel their best.

Using tools and materials that keep the nails and skin healthy is another important part of foot care. Here at The Toe Bro, we offer products specially designed to prevent and treat symptoms of common foot conditions. Take a look around our website to enhance your foot care routine today. You'll enjoy healthy, good-looking feet for years to come.

Your Guide to Professional Toenail Clippers

Whether giving yourself a full-on pedicure or just a regular trim, you’ll likely find that professional toenail clippers are the optimal choice for good toenail hygiene. Regularly clipping your toenails abides by universal beauty standards, and doing so comes with some health benefits. Properly cut toenails prevent less dirt and bacteria from collecting under the nails, leading to less nail breakage and splitting. In addition, good toenail hygiene typically reduces the risk of ingrown toenails or other painful issues.  

However, the technique in cutting toenails is not quite as simple as it seems, and having the right tools can make all the difference. Therefore, it’s important to know what elements to look for while shopping for quality professional nail clippers. 

What Makes Quality Professional Toenail Clippers?

It’s easy to find a variety of nail clippers in almost any convenience store or online. But with so many choices, how do you know which one is right for you? Making that decision is much easier once you know the quality elements that make up the best toenail clippers.

1. Sharp Blades With a Curve

Many people may trim their nail edge to end up with a rounded shape, which is typically the method with low-quality curved blades. Yet, many podiatrists and nail technicians agree that the best way to cut your toenails is straight across. Cutting your toenails straight helps ensure that your nails grow upward, and it likely reduces ingrown toenails, fungal infections, and toenail thickness. 

Select professional nail clippers with a curved, sharp edge and a fine tip to achieve the cleanest straight edge for your toenails. Despite the curved edge, these types of podiatry tools can allow you more hand control and precision over cutting your nails straight. 

2. Surgical Grade Stainless Steel

Surgical grade stainless steel is an iron-based metal commonly used in hospitals and clinics. Unlike standard stainless steel, quality surgical grade steel proves to be the strongest during medical procedures and resistant to corrosion. Furthermore, tools with little corrosion also mean lower risk of inflicting damage or attracting bacteria, which is particularly beneficial for medical use. 

For optimum strength and durability that will prove effective for a long service life, look for surgical-grade stainless steel toenail clippers. 

3. Strong Leaf Spring

If you happen to have thick toenails that are hard to cut, look for clippers with a strong leaf spring. Strong leaf springs offers strength and leverage that can cut through even the of thickest nails without splitting the nail bed or creating other damage. 

Consider a safe-to-use professional nail nipper that incorporates a double spring for effective cutting thick nails. Nail nippers may look a little more intimidating than traditional toenail clippers, but they are the best tool for flexibility, smoothness, and overall ease. 

Remember that it’s best to first consult with your doctor for the best method of cutting if your thickened toenails are unsafe or too painful to cut on your own 

4. Ergonomic Handle with Firm Grip

Toenail clippers with an ergonomic grip are designed for comfort and efficiency, which is why it’s often highly praised by podiatrists and nail technicians. Solid grip strength allows you more leverage over your cutting, which reduces the risks of slipping and accidents. 

5. Quality With Long Lasting Use

Top quality often goes hand in hand with long-lasting use. The type of the steel will determine longevity, which is why surgical-grade stainless steel is a top choice for professional toenail clippers. Moreover, there are different coatings that add a safeguard to the surgical steel. For example, a diamond dust coating will promote a tool’s endurance. So when searching for the best toenail clippers, pay attention for any additional steel coatings. 

How Much Should Professional Toenail Clippers Cost?

Many retail stores sell standard toenail clippers for affordable prices, but these clippers typically have weak steel that easily rusts, loses grip, or dulls blades. Therefore, cheap toenail clippers may prove to be more damaging than effective. It’s worth investing in quality clippers to avoid additional costs if you run into toenail hygiene problems down the road.  

Professional toenail clippers typically range from $20 to $50, but the price depends on the type of tool you need and any supplements. Consider a professional foot care kit for a more cost-effective purchase if you require multiple toenail tools.   

Pick the Perfect Tool for Your Toes

Selecting the right podiatrist-recommended toenail clipper comes with understanding these necessary quality factors. However, it’s a good idea to take note of the current condition of your toenails while you research. Are they thick? Are they small or large? Do they easily break? Are they prone to ingrown nails or infections? 

Identifying your nail type can also help you determine the following:

  • Clipper Size. A larger clipper size is best for toenails as it offers more control for larger nails, whereas smaller nail clippers work better for fingernails. Consider storing both sizes in your home. 
  • Clipper strength. Remember that a strong leaf spring or a double spring can help safely cut thick nails without damage.
  • Curvature. A curved blade will likely help you cut straight across with more precision and comfort. 
  • Additional tools. Nail files and curettes are helpful if you have issues with nail thickness or ingrown toenails.

Toenail health can vary from person to person, which is why podiatrists keep a variety of tools to treat their patients’ natural nails. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same for yourself at home, too. 

The Toe Bro’s professional nail nipper is the ideal tool for your toenail hygiene, combining all the qualities of the tools you’d find in any podiatry office: 

  • Curved, sharp, and fine-tipped blade
  • Superior grip ability
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel
  • Safe to sterilize

Improve and maintain optimal toenail health with the professional, high-quality foot care products The Toe Bro can offer.