The cost of ingrowing toenails

Following on from last month’s article introducing the various costs associated with health problems, I thought I would start with something apparently fairly simple – ingrowing toenails. However they can be far from simple. In my days as NHS Diabetic Foot Specialist, I was involved in the case of a man who developed gangrene from his ingrowing toenail and ultimately died. Until he presented to me in the hospital with the gangrene, he had not once been referred to a chiropodist or podiatrist to address the original problem. Instead 9 months of GP care with multiple courses of antibiotics had been tried. Unfortunately, all these years later and I still see patients who have had similar treatment plans that have failed to resolve their problem. The record I have experienced is a patient who presented at my clinic after having had 11 courses of antibiotics! It is so unnecessary and he was cured the same day he attended for treatment with me. The reason for this is simple though – ingrowing toenails wont heal properly whilst the nail edge continues to rub or impinge on the flesh. All it takes is removal of that nail edge, treatment of any associated infection, and the problem is sorted, at least until the nail edge grows back. However there are surgical solutions to stop this from happening.

So lets look at the costs involved:

Physical costs – Ingrowing toenails can hurt. A lot! At the very least, they impact on footwear choices. Moreso, they impede activities that we may enjoy doing – walking, running, playing sport etc. Treatment of any infection can affect us as well though. Repeated courses of antibiotics can lead to a higher chance of developing resistance to antibiotics, as well as the chance of affecting the good bacteria in our digestive system.

Emotional costs – Being in pain when we put on shoes, or the pain of lying in bed with the weight of the duvet on our toes, as often occurs with ingrowing toenails, can have a draining effect on our wellbeing. The throbbing, burning, sometimes intensely sharp pain, will go on and on if left untreated. The appearance of a bleeding or bandaged toe can make us feel self-conscious, and the smell when it is infected can affect us and those around us.

Financial costs – The financial cost of not treating an ingrowing toenail properly can soon add up. Recurrent trips to the GP clinic, costs of repeated antibiotics & home remedies, expense of replacement footwear affected by the constant wound seepage, potential loss of earnings etc. But what does it cost to have it professionally treated (by someone who uses sterile instruments and appropriate techniques). Well if you don’t mind waiting and you satisfy the current NHS criteria for access to Podiatry, then you could have it treated for free (please note that it is only free at the point of delivery – we all pay for the NHS through our taxes & National Insurance contributions). Privately you could see a Foot Health Practitioner for mild cases and pay approximately £20-£40 for a solution that may only last a few weeks. Or you could see a Podiatrist for a longer lasting solution at a possible cost of £40-£100, and they could supply antibiotics for you if necessary. Also a Podiatrist could provide a permanent solution at an additional cost of £250-£500 irrespective of how bad the ingrowing toenail is. Or you could see a surgeon and pay £500-£2000 for a similar cure. The important thing is that whoever you see has the highest possible levels of success to help avoid further physical, emotional, and financial costs for you.

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Please don’t just take our word that we can resolve ingrowing toenails – here are some reviews from very satisfied patients:

“Jonathan Small and his team have been excellent. A person centred, straight forward approach and really genuine team. I had been told by NHS and other podiatrists that the healing after ingrowing toe nail would take up to 12 weeks yet after the surgery at Health First Foot, it has completely healed in just over 3 weeks. Going privately was one of the best investments I’ve made. Thank you Health First!” – N.J., Chipping Norton

“I cannot praise highly enough in this post the warm welcome, professionalism, attention to detail, in-depth assessment and subsequent intervention at this practice. The nail surgery I had yesterday was painless. Thank you very much.” – J.H., Tysoe

“A 1st class level of support from beginning to end by Jonathan and his team in resolving my son’s infected ingrowing toe nail……….I cannot recommend Health First enough, and have now booked myself in for an appointment to resolve a problem toe that I have put with for 25 years!” – A happy father

“After months of suffering with ingrown toenails, I went to see Jonathan Small who was kind, professional and gentle. He performed the nail surgery on the same day as assessment so I could begin the road to recovery. I would recommend health first to anyone with foot problems.” -N.R., Coventry

“Couldn’t be more thankful for the quick and friendly service. I needed help fast (I couldn’t wait 2-3 months for nail surgery on the NHS) and Jonathan sorted me out just three days after I phoned to enquire. I felt very confident and relaxed in Health First. Thank you all!” A.D., Banbury

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