When Should You Have a Toenail Removed Because of Fungal Infections?


Quick Answer

Nonsurgical or chemical removal of a nail infected with fungus occurs when the nail is hypertrophic, experiencing abnormal growth, or when there is a severe fungal infection. In cases where a large portion of the nail is affected, surgical removal may occur, says WebMD.

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Full Answer

Nonsurgical nail removal is a chemical application targeting the diseased portion of the nail, states WebMD. Performed in the office, avulsion is the procedure that removes the entire nail, while debridement refers to partial nail removal. During this painless procedure, the physician applies a urea ointment to the diseased part of the nail after covering the healthy section of the nail. Within 10 days, the nail dries and softens, and the physician lifts or cuts the diseased portion away from the nail bed in the office.

Surgical removal of a fungus-infected nail occurs in the doctor’s office or clinic as well, according to WebMD. The physician injects pain medication to the site, folds back the layers around the nail and removes the diseased parts using a tool. Destroying the nail matrix by applying a chemical treatment during the procedure prevents the nail from regrowing. Applying ointment and covering the area with gauze protects the area while it heals.

Fingernails take about six months to grow back after treatment, reports WebMD. Toenails grow back in 12 to 18 months. With nonsurgical treatment, the patient must keep the exposed area dry. The patient must keep surgically treated area dry and apply medicated ointment to the affected area.

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