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For treatment of ingrown toenails, a phenolization is often chosen. Many reports describe an intra-operative irrigation or lavage of the wound with various types of alcohol to neutralize any residual phenol from this treatment. There are conflicting reports in the literature as to whether a true neutralization is required or merely effective removal of excess phenol.
The aim of our study was to analyse the suitability and effectiveness of the alcohol lavage step during the treatment of ingrown toenails with a phenolization procedure.
We performed an in vitro study using human skin and a diffusion cell apparatus to measure the amount of phenol remaining after various lavage washes. The effect of phenol evaporation was also examined.
There was no measurable amount of phenol collected after each experiment, suggesting that diffusion of phenol through the skin does not exist. The open compartment test had significantly less phenol recovered compared with the occluded compartment test, indicating phenol evaporation.
An alcohol lavage step after the phenolization procedure can be a suitable and effective means of diluting and removing any excess or residual phenol from the exposed area.