Ingrown Toenail Treatment 101: Home Remedies

By Marisa Ramiccio. May 7th 2016

So you’re not a foot person. Every once in a while, you clip your toenails, but who cares if they’re perfectly straight? Unfortunately, it has been a while since you broke out the nail clippers, and recently your big toe has developed a dull, throbbing ache. The area around the nail has turned red and looks a little swollen. These symptoms are the result of poor foot care, which has now caused an ingrown toenail. Here is quick course on ingrown toenail treatment, with an emphasis on home remedies.

The Refresher Course

In case you need to brush up on your vocabulary of foot conditions, here is a refresher course on ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails are nails that have grown back into the skin. They’re usually caused by:

  • Unusually curved nails
  • Not clipping your toenails straight across
  • Wearing tight or very narrow shoes
  • Foot injuries

Ingrown toenails can affect any nail in any person at any time. They may be a one-time occurrence or they may be a recurring condition. If ingrown toenails are a common occurrence or you or if the symptoms of one begin to grow worse, it’s time to visit the doctor.

The doctor can lift the toenail out of the skin and help it grow straight again. Part of the toenail may need to be removed, but your doctor will determine that based on the progression of the ingrown toenail.

Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenails 101

Now that you’re up to speed, it’s time to take care of that pesky ingrown toenail. There are many home remedies that can help get that toenail back in place and relieve some of your symptoms. Here are some of the remedies you can try:

Soak your feet – Try soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes. Do this for two to three times a day for up to a week. This should relive any pain or discomfort in your toe.

Try lifting the nail – After your foot has soaked in the salt water, the skin and the nail should be soft enough to try this remedy. Take a piece of clean dental floss or a tiny piece of cotton and gently try to lift the nail out of the skin. If it won’t budge, don’t force it. You may only make it worse. Instead, try again after the next salt soak. Once the nail has been successfully lifted out of the skin, you may want to place a tiny piece of cotton under the nail to keep it growing straight.

Rub antibiotic cream on the nail – Antibiotic cream can help prevent an infection, a nasty side effect of an ingrown toenail. Just dab some on the ingrown part of the nail at least once a day. If you do develop an infection, be sure to keep the nail covered, preferably with a white sock as the dye from colored socks can worsen the infection.

One home remedy that you do not want to try is cutting a V-shape into your nail. An old wives’ tale says that this can relieve pressure in the nail, but like most old wives’ tales, this has no truth to it.

It’s generally not recommended that you play surgeon on yourself, anyway. Although you may think that cutting part of your toenail off may help solve the problem, it could, in fact, make the situation worse. If these remedies do not work for you, don’t take matters into your own hands, visit a doctor instead.

Notes On Ingrown Toenail Prevention

Once you’ve gotten rid of an ingrown toenail, you want to make sure that you don’t get one again. Here are some tips that should keep your nails in line:

  • Wear the right shoes – If you wear shoes that pinch your toes, it’s likely that they are the cause of your ingrown toenail. Instead look for shoes that are roomier in the toe area and for women, have a lower heel. If the weather is warm, try wearing some sandals, which provide plenty of room for your tootsies.
  • Trim your nails the right way – Always cut your nails straight across and file down the edges if they’re too sharp. Don’t trim your nails too short, either, as they can easily pierce the skin. Make sure the end of the nail lines up with the end of your toe.
  • Be weary of certain pedicure practices – Sometimes, unskilled nail technicians can cause an ingrown toenail by using the metallic instruments to remove dead skin and clip your nails. If you see the technician’s hand heading for metal, ask her kindly to use another instrument.

Now that you’ve graduated from Ingrown Toenail Home Remedies 101, you have the skills to combat any ingrown toenail. You should now be a pro in preventing ingrown toenails and taking care of your feet and a nails.


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