Ingrown Toenail Bracing

Does your ingrown toenail treatment look like this?  It can with adhesive nail braces.  This picture contains two Curve Correct nail braces and one Nailease brace.

Does your ingrown toenail treatment look like this? It can with adhesive nail braces. This picture contains two Curve Correct nail braces and one Nailease brace.

Your ingrown toenail is throbbing and you’re getting desperate.  You’ve heard that surgery is your only real solution.  Not true!  Let us introduce you to nail braces for ingrown toenails.

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 recognized by Dr. William Scholl (maybe that name sounds familiar?) as a viable, non-surgical treatment for ingrowing toenails.

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 Nail Braces

This toenail shows both NailEase and Curve Correct nail braces.

This toenail shows both NailEase and Curve Correct nail 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.

The two leading brands of adhesive nail braces are Nailease and CurveCorrect.  Both are great products and each has its own advantages.

Nailease CurveCorrect
Material Carbon Fiber Composite
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.  Additionally, some styles of hooked braces may be easier for the patient to apply themselves than adhesive braces.

If you live in Europe or Australia, hooked braces can be found either online or through a foot therapist.  One especially well-designed product is the Oniko brace which can be purchased in many European countries.  If you live in the U.S.; however, hooked braces are virtually unavailable at this time.