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Taping method helps half of patients with ingrowing toenails avoid surgery

GPs may be able to use a new technique for patients with ingrowing toenails, after a study of 541 patients found that an adhesive tape helped improved outcomes.

A paper published in the Annals of Family Medicine describes how 276 patients out of 541 using the taping methods over 14 years saw their symptoms and abnormal nail growth remedied, and required no additional therapy.

The authors argue that the techniques can avoid the need for cutting or removing a nail.

The tape is a simple piece of ‘mesh elastic adhesive tape’ about 3-4cm long and 2.5cm wide. It is placed lengthways, adjacent and parallel to the nail, and extends to cover part of the skin just above the upper extremity of the nail. It does not completely encircle the toe, which means patients do not experience circulation problems typical in traditional taping methods, the authors argue. The techniques works through pulling tender skin away from the edge of the nail.

Although 265 patients needed additional treatment, the taping relieved pain in the majority, it concluded. Among patients who had no previous surgery 48% of cases were ‘resolved’, while 49% subsequently had to have a brace or similar additions, and 3% required surgery.

Among patients who had previously had surgery, 20% of cases were ‘resolved’ through the taping.

The study lead, Dr Koichi Tsunoda from the National Tokyo Medical Centr, said:  ‘The novel taping method was far more effective than treatments our patients had received previously. We hope that other health care facilities will adopt this novel taping method as a non-invasive, low-cost, first-line treatment for ingrown toenails in the typical primary care population before cutting or removing the nail.’


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