Ingrown Toenail Remedies

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition whereby a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the soft skin at either the side or the top of the toe. The condition starts with pain and inflammation at the site of the ingrowth and later, the inflamed area can begin to grow extra tissue or it could drain a yellowish color fluid. If left untreated or if treated incorrectly, an ingrown toenail can develop into an infection or an abscess. In rare cases, the bone in the toe can become infected.

About Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are very uncommon in infants and children, although they can happen in teenagers. They are more common in men than women, and young people in their 20s and 30s are most at risk. Any toenail can become ingrown, but the most common culprit is the big toe.

Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

If it is early enough in the course of the ingrown toenail, there are a number of things that you can do at home to prevent the need for surgery.

  • Soak the feet four times a day in warm water for half an hour at a time. If you have a foot spa, use that four times a day. You don’t need to add anything to the water. Pat the feet dry once you’ve soaked them and follow up with a moisturizer.
  • Wash the affected foot twice a day with plain anti-bacterial soap and water. Make sure you rinse the soap from the foot fully after washing and keep the foot clean and dry during the rest of the day.
  • Keep away from high heels and tight fitting shoes until the condition clears up.
  • Lift up the corner of the nail that is digging into your skin. Roll up a tiny piece of medical bandage and place it between the nail and the skin. This ensures that the nail cannot grow into the skin any further. Change the roll every day or more if it becomes smelly or dirty and attempt to push the roll further under the nail after every soaking. This is very painful, but it is the most important part of home treatment. It may take between seven and 15 days for the nail to grow out long enough to not poke into the skin.
  • If you see no improvement within five days, you should call your doctor.
  • Take a pain reliever such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if the pain from the ingrown toenail becomes too much.

Medical Treatment for Ingrown Toenails

If you cannot treat the toenail yourself, your doctor may give you a splint similar to the medical bandage technique mentioned above. This splint will be used to keep the nail elevated from the skin. If tissue has grown around the nail, your doctor will remove that tissue in order to help your nail heal faster and healthier. If there is any infection, you’ll be given antibiotics or topical medication that is applied directly to the nail.

If an infection is present that cannot be adequately treated with medication, you may have to have surgery. This surgery will involve removing either a part of the nail or the whole nail and removal of the abscess, if present. If you’ve had numerous ingrown toenails in the past, it’s likely that your whole nail will be removed. You’ll also be given a tetanus shot as with ingrown toenails, the open wound could develop tetanus. Anesthetic will be injected into the toe and the nail will be removed. The doctor may then decide to use chemicals on the area that help the nail to grow back, although this depends on whether you’ve had ingrown toenails before.

For more information on how to treat your ingrown toenail, speak to your doctor.