Bathroom Surgery Gone Wrong!
There is a colloquial term that we sometimes throw around called “bathroom surgery.” Typically, when we use common household items to perform procedures on ourselves that we think we can do with what we have lying around to avoid a trip to the doctor. In the podiatry world, it is arguably the most encountered when a patient has an ingrown nail.
This was the case for this unfortunate patient I saw years ago who had attempted to use a kitchen knife to take care of his own ingrown nail. He presented to the emergency room because he was having a fever and felt like his heart was beating too fast. He also noticed his left foot was turning red and swollen and the redness had been streaking up his ankle (a sign of a serious and progressing infection). After the initial workup by the Emergency docs, they called a sepsis code, and I was consulted to come to evaluate his foot. Long story short, this patient ended up staying in the hospital and requiring weeks of IV antibiotics. Luckily, he didn’t require surgery, and his infection eventually resolved. This is a rare and serious complication of an ingrown nail which can usually be treated the same day in the office with simple removal of the offending piece of nail.
The point of the story is that even for something as simple as an ingrown nail, complications are more likely to occur if the initial procedure is handled improperly. Household tools are often not as clean as we’d like to believe, and improper techniques or unnecessary procedures can lead to serious consequences. This is doubly so for patients with other medical conditions that could complicate healing or compromise their immune system. It is vital to seek the right help and not to wait until it’s serious.
If you have an ingrown nail or another urgent issue, please seek the appropriate care, and make an appointment. Especially for urgent issues, space can be made in the schedule so you can be seen the same day or the next day!