Nail Braces…They’re Like Orthodontics For Your Ingrown Toenails
So your toe is throbbing and you would do anything to make it stop. You’ll even consider surgery if it just stops hurting. Seriously, you’re pretty sure just ripping the toenail off would hurt less. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’ve been there. The good news is that I found a solution that’s fast and painless yet just as permanent as surgery: nail bracing.
Nail bracing is not a new idea. In fact, the first patented toenail braces were created in 1872 and 1873. Yes, you read that right…over 140 years ago. Nail bracing was also outlined as the mechanical, non-surgical treatment for ingrowing toenails by Dr. William Scholl in his 1915 book The Human Foot. Anatomy, deformities and treatment. A text book for the student and practitioner.
Given that one of the leaders in American podiatric medicine recognized nail bracing as a viable treatment for ingrown nails, it’s surprising that it has not been more widely practiced in the U.S. Toenail braces have been used as a preferred, noninvasive treatment in many European countries and Australia since the 1960’s by chiropodists and foot therapists. Now, introduction of adhesive, composite braces has turned nail braces into a patient-applied, home remedy for ingrown toenails. Perhaps due to this change, they have begun to gain popularity in the U.S.
Ingrown toenail braces come in two main forms, adhesive and hooked. A combined option is also available if needed.
Adhesive Toenail Braces
Adhesive braces are made of a very thin strip of composite material and are glued to the top of the nail using the equivalent of Krazy Glue. While flexible, the resilient composite material attempts to return to its natural flat shape and, as a result, gently lifts the sides of the curved nail. This lifting action normally provides relief from the pain within 1-2 days as well as trains the nail to grow flatter over time thus correcting the underlying problem.
Adhesive braces are great options for those looking for an unobtrusive or even invisible treatment. Because they are very thin, the braces can be polished over and made virtually undetectable.
Two brands of nail braces that I have used with success are Nailease and CurveCorrect. Both are great products and each has its own advantages.
|Appearance||Black strip. Very apparent if nails are not polished. Easier to camouflage with polish and nail art.||Clear strip. Looks better on unpolished nails. Harder to hide with polish and nail art because it is thicker and creates a ridge on the nail.|
|Cost||$14.99 for 1 strip plus S&H||$44.95 for 10 strips plus S&H|
|Comfort||Almost unnoticeable (except for the pain relief).||If being placed on nail in the nail crevice, the added thickness can cause tenderness when shoes press against the skin.|
Hooked Nail Braces
Hooked nail braces come in many varieties but all work on the same principles. A hook, generally made out of dental wire, is placed around/under either side of the affected nail. Some type of tensioning devise then connects the hooks. The tensioning device uses the higher middle section of the nail as a type of lever and pulls gently upward on the sides of the nail as a result.
The result after treatment is finished is the same with both adhesive and hooked braces; however, some people with very thin or weak nails may not be good candidates for adhesive braces. For those people, hooked braces provide a better option.
If you live in Europe or Australia, hooked braces can be found either online or through a foot therapist. If you live in the U.S.; however, I have found that hooked braces are virtually unavailable at this time.