If you’ve ever suffered from an ingrown toenail, you know how debilitating the pain can be, and how wearing shoes can feel painful. This is why we’ve collected several home remedies and recommendations to treat and prevent ingrown toenails.
What are ingrown toenails?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail grows in the wrong direction, growing into the fleshy sides of the toe instead of outwards. This can lead to discomfort and pain when wearing closed shoes, and even to an infection if left untreated. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be needed.
What causes ingrown toenails?
The main causes of ingrown toenails are genetics, wearing shoes that are too tight on the toes, or trauma to the toenail area.
Treatment and prevention:
1. The Cotton Ball method
- Begin by soaking your feet in hot water (as hot as you can stand) and Epsom salt (or povidone-iodine or potassium permanganate) for 20-30 minutes twice a day. By soaking your feet you soften the toenail, and the salt/PVP prevents infection by killing the bacteria in the area.
- Trim your nail carefully, making sure it’s straight and not curved, without pointed parts at the edges. Curved toenails are more likely to become ingrown.
- Use tweezers to gently push a cotton ball in the ingrown area, so that it raises the nail, preventing it from growing back into the toe.
- Replace the cotton daily to prevent further infection.
- If the toe is already infected, use an infection-preventing ointment (such as Neosporin) on the infected area and bandage it. Avoid wearing socks or shoes when you’re home, because the area needs to breathe.
2. Use lemon
- By placing a thin slice of lemon on the toe and wrapping it in gauze overnight, you allow the lemon’s natural acidity to kill off any infection.
3. Soften the toenail with oil
- Use Tea Tree oil or baby oil on the affected area to soften the toenail, which will reduce any pain when wearing shoes by lowering the pressure put on the nail.
- Always trim your toenails, preferably every 2-3 weeks.
- Avoid pedicures while suffering from an ingrown toenail – it may lead to a full-blown infection.
- Don’t wear shoes that are too tight.
- If the toe is infected and swollen with pus around it, see a doctor.
- Do not remove the cuticles from your toes if you suffer from ingrown toenails.
Cover image courtesy of depositphotos