Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Minor Nail Procedure

What is a Minor Nail Procedure? 

This is a small procedure carried out to treat nail problems which cause pain such as ingrowing toenails.  It involves taking part or all of the toenail away under a local anaesthetic. This is done as an outpatient appointment and is scheduled for 1 hour.

Ingrown toe-nail

Who performs the Minor Nail Procedure?

The procedure will be carried out by a fully trained Podiatrist. 

Other podiatrists or podiatry students may be present – let the Podiatrist know if you would prefer them to not be there.

What happens?

A local anaesthetic will be administered into the base of both sides of the toe to numb the area. If you are concerned about having an injection you can use EMLA numbing cream at the base of your toe which is available via your GP.

Once your toe is numb:

  • A small rubber ring (tourniquet) will be placed on the toe
  • The problem section of the nail will be removed, in some cases the whole nail may be removed
  • Phenol (a chemical) is applied to the nail bed to prevent the nail from re-growing. It is your choice if the chemical is applied or not, if not then the nail will re-grow but is likely to be problematic in the future
  • The rubber ring (tourniquet) is removed
  • A large bulky dressing will be applied to your toe.

What happens after?

  • Verbal and written instructions will be given to you and a dressing pack will be provided
  • Your toe will be numb for up to 4 hours
  • You should rest with your foot up for 24 hours after the procedure to reduce any bleeding
  • 24 hours after the procedure you will need to remove your dressing and replace it with a new dressing form the pack provided
  • Once your new dressing is in place you can return to normal daily activities such as school or work – be careful with footwear and don’t knock your toe. 
  • You will need to re-dress your toe every day until it is healed. This will be roughly 6-8 weeks but may take longer in some cases.
  • If you need to return to the department for a review, please contact us – 02920 335 135
  • We can offer further appointments to monitor the healing if required. You should refrain from contact sports and water sports/swimming whilst your toe is healing.

Useful tips

  • You will need to bring sandals or slippers to wear after the procedure to accommodate the dressing
  • You will be UNABLE to drive home from the procedure as your toe will be numb
  • You must not walk or cycle home as this will increase bleeding, please arrange a lift home
  • Most people feel very little or no pain after the procedure and during recovery
  • We advise you not to drink alcohol for 24 hours before and after the procedure as alcohol in the blood stream can cause increased bleeding
  • When removing the bulky dressing the day after the procedure it is recommended to get the dressing wet as this will make it easier to remove.

Precautions and Risks

The common risks are included within this Minor Nail Procedure Advice Sheet as well as precautions for the following people:

  • those with diabetes
  • those with vascular or circulation concerns
  • those with epilepsy
  • those with asthma
  • those with angina
  • those taking anti-coagulants
  • those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 
Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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