If you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail, you know how painful they can be. They’re a common problem and many people will experience an ingrown toenail at some point in their life. They usually occur due to wearing shoes that fit too tight or improper nail trimming. Fortunately, there are treatments for ingrown toenails you can try at home. If you want to know how to get rid of an ingrown toenail, check out these tips and remedies for fast relief.
What is an Ingrown Toenail?
An ingrown toenail is a toenail that has grown into the skin instead or over it. It can be quite painful and uncomfortable, and although it can happen to any toe, ingrown toenails typically affect the big toe. It’s possible for ingrown toenails to become infected- if it causes a break in the skin, bacteria can enter and the infection can make it even more painful. If your ingrown toenail is red, swollen, hot and very painful, it’s most likely that it’s infected.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
- Wearing shoes that squeeze or crowd the toes/toenails
- Cutting toenails too short or not straight across (if they’re too short or rounded they may grow into the skin)
- Trauma to the toe, such as banging your foot or getting your foot stepped on
- Tearing the corner of the nail
- If you have curved or thick nails (more common in older adults)
- Nail infections
- Poor foot hygiene or excessive sweating
- Hereditary (you can inherit this from your parents)
How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails
- Wear shoes that fit properly – tight shoes cause pressure, and if your shoes are too big, your toe may hit against the top of your shoe.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- Trim your nails properly – do this after your shower or soak your foot in warm water before trimming. Make sure you cut straight across and don’t cut them too short.
- Avoid trauma to the toe area as much as possible. If you play soccer or another sport where your toes are involved, try going barefoot for an hour or two afterward.
How to Get Rid of An Ingrown Toenail
1. Warm Water and Epsom Salts
Soak your foot in warm water and epsom salts twice daily for 20 minutes, but make sure to keep your foot dry the rest of the day. Soaking your foot can help reduce swelling and ease pain, and loosen up the skin around the nail. It will also help reduce the risk of infection.
2. Wear Roomy Shoes or Sandals
The last thing you want to do when you have an ingrown toenail is to cram it into tight-fitting shoes or socks. To keep your ingrown toenail from getting worse, wear roomy shoes and socks that leave ample space in the toe bed, or stick to sandals if the weather permits. Avoid shoes as much as you can to limit pressure on your ingrown toenail, and when you’re at home, don’t wear socks or shoes to give your toes some air.
3. Soak Your Foot in Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is believed to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, making it a great remedy for an ingrown toenail. Combine warm water with ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and soak your foot for up to 20 minutes daily. Make sure to rinse and dry your foot thoroughly after soaking.
4. Use a Toenail Corrector Stick
These toenail corrector sticks have been shown to improve ingrown toenails and resolve pain from infection. They create upward tension and change the physical curve of nail growth. They’re soft, breathable and have good elasticity, so you don’t need to worry about any breakage or discomfort.
5. Apply Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent that can help soften and moisturize the skin around the toenail. This reduces the pressure put on the toenail when you have to wear shoes, providing relief from pain and discomfort. Mix the oil with a carrier oil like MCT oil, and apply it on the skin around the ingrown toenail. Cover the toe with a bandage before putting socks and shoes on.
6. Antiseptic Ointment and Bandage
An over-the-counter antiseptic ointment, such as Neosporin, Ploysporin or Bactroban can help heal the ingrown nail and reduce the risk of infection. Apply the ointment to the affected toenail and bandage the toenail after application. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.
7. Keep Your Feet Dry
Excessive sweating can create an environment for bacteria and fungal infections. Make sure to keep your feet dry to lessen the risk of infection and speed up your recovery. If you play sports or do another activity that makes your feet sweat, make sure to wash and dry them off thoroughly as soon as possible once you’ve finished.
8. Try a Toe Protector
A toe protector can provide great relief, cushioning your toe so it doesn’t rub against your shoe or other toes. These gel protectors are comfortable and adjustable to provide perfect coverage to keep your toes protected. Toe protectors are ideal if you have to wear shoes and can’t wear sandals or go barefoot.
9. Lemon Juice and Honey
Although this combo won’t necessarily get rid of your ingrown toenail, it will help fight an infection. Lemon has antimicrobial effects and Manuka honey supports wound-healing. Apply fresh lemon juice and honey to the affected toe, then wrap it with gauze and leave it on overnight.
When to See a Doctor
You should visit your doctor if you experience severe discomfort in your toe, or notice pus or inflamed skin that seems to be spreading. If your symptoms haven’t improved within a few days, or the nail looks worse than it has over the past few days, get in contact with your doctor. You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if you develop an ingrown toenail and you have diabetes, severe nerve damage, poor blood circulation or an infection.
Ingrown toenails are painful and uncomfortable and can affect your day to day life. Try these tips and remedies to get rid of ingrown toenails.
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