The effect of phenol on ingrown toenail excision in children

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Purpose: Ingrown toenails in children are a common problem with a high recurrence rate. The objective of this retrospective data review was to compare simple excision of the nail matrix with excision plus phenol (EPP) application in the treatment of ingrown toenails.
Methods: The charts of 69 children who underwent surgical treatment of one or more ingrown toenails from 1994 to 2000 were reviewed. The primary procedure was noted (excision alone [EA] vs EPP) and dates of recurrences and reoperations were recorded. Parents were then surveyed by phone regarding complications, cosmetic outcome, and overall satisfaction with the procedure. Five scale categories, ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree", were used, with responses of "strongly agree" and "agree" considered as a good outcome. Either Student's t test or the chi2 test (P < .05 considered significant) was used for analysis.
Results: Thirty-one patients (45%) were in the EPP group whereas the remaining 38 had EA. Mean length of follow-up was 4.3 years for the EA group and 2.1 years for the EPP group. There was no difference in age at operation or length of follow-up between the 2 groups. Boys were predominant in both groups. The survey response rate was 50/69 (73%). The recurrence rate of ingrown toenails in the EA group was 42% vs 4% in the EPP group (P = .003). There were no significant differences in parental response with regard to operative experience (P = .31) and the cosmetic result (P = .13), with most of the respondents (78%) indicating a good outcome for both questions.
Conclusions: The addition of phenol to the surgical excision of ingrown toenail significantly reduced the incidence of recurrence, with similar patient satisfaction and an equivalent cosmetic result.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pediatric Surgery