15 Mar Nail bracing, just like braces for your teeth BUT for your toenails!
There is a gentle solution to your ingrown toenails, no sharp tools or needles are necessary! But you will need a little patience. If your teeth were crooked, you would get braces at an orthodontist, well now we can apply a very similar technology to your toenails for the same effect.
Although you may have never heard of nail bracing here in Australia, it has been used widely worldwide, especially in Europe for over 30 years! Nail bracing is a long-term treatment option and an alternative to surgery that aims to prevent the regrowth of ingrown nails.
Why are my nails ingrown?
The nail is a plate made of keratin attached to an underlying plate made of skin called the nail plate. The baby keratin cells grow at the base of your nail, and as they multiply, they get pushed outward. Compacted layers of old dead keratin cells form the hard, translucent nail that you see on your finger or toe.
The nail must grow smoothly while also adhering to the skin of the toe, this is a delicate dance that is easily interrupted. A tight pair of shoes, a growth spurt during your teenage years, or just dodgy nail genetics can derail the keratin cells from the nail’s plate skin below. As the nail curves, it can start to cut into the skin. This is what an ingrowing toenail is.
A list of potential causes of your disrupted nail growth:
- Improper nail cutting
- Tearing/picking of nails
- Constrictive footwear
- Thyroid disorders
- Lower extremity edema
- Increased sweat: adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, athletes.
How does a nail brace work:
The aim of the brace is the counter the force of the ingrown nail. When the force of the brace is equal to the force of the nail trying to grow in, the result is a flattening of the nail. The process is a slow and steady one. This spring-like tension will retrain the nail bed and your nail as it grows to a new more desired (less painful!) shape. We use 4 different types of braces depending on your needs that all have the same effect.
Cost of brace:
We charge $50 per brace as well as the consultation cost. The consultation cost for a patient with a chronic ingrown toenail can often be subsidised by a referral from your general practitioner. DVA patients are fully covered with no out-of-pocket costs. Some private health funds will also cover this procedure but as each fund varies significantly we recommend you check if you are covered for podiatry for these item codes:
How long does it take?
Somewhere between 3 months and 18 months depending on the curvature and thickness of your nail.
Frequently asked questions:
- Can I go swimming? Yes, not a problem!
- Can I paint my nails? You can paint straight over the brace if you like with normal nail polish to provide some camouflage!
- What shoes can I wear? Any shoes you like. Tight narrow shoes and pointy enclosed high heels are not recommended as you can increase the trauma to the nail and undo the work of the brace.
- Can I play sports with the brace on? Absolutely! Go about your normal activities 24 hours after the brace has been applied.