An ingrown toenail is not only painful, but extremely annoying. On average one out of five people has to deal with ingrown toenails.
What Is an Ingrown Toenail?
When a toenail is ingrown, it is curved and grows into the skin, usually at the nail borders (the sides of the nail). This curve usually causes the nail to “dig in” to the skin. This “digging in” of the nail will irritate the skin, which often creates pain, redness, swelling, and warmth in the toe.
However, if an ingrown nail causes a break in the skin, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area, which is often marked by drainage and a foul odor. However, even if the toe isn’t painful, red, swollen, or warm, a nail that curves downward into the skin can progress to an infection.
There are numerous different causes of ingrown toenails. The most common causes include:
- Heredity. In many people, the tendency for ingrown toenails is inherited.
- Trauma. Sometimes an ingrown toenail is the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.
- Improper trimming. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting your nails too short. This encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail.
- Improperly sized footwear. Ingrown toenails can result from wearing socks and shoes that are tight or short.
- Nail Conditions. Ingrown toenails can be caused by nail problems, such as fungal infections or losing a nail due to trauma.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to treat and cure an ingrown toenail. Try this treatment and you should notice an improvement without having to see a doctor.
Soak Your Nail in Hot Water
The water should be hot enough so you can keep your feet in it for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the water is at least room temperature. You should do this at least once a day until the nail is healed. After you have soaked your foot, gently massage the outside of the toe to loosen the nail. Repeat this until the nail has healed. Also, you can add either Epsom salt or soap to the water to help cleanse the area.
This treatment takes a few more steps and requires more attention to detail.
- Before you soak your feet in water, make sure you have a nail clipper, tweezers, scissors, cotton, and gauze within reach.
- Soak your feet in water. Just like the above mentioned treatment, you want to soak your foot in hot water for at least 15-20 minutes. This will allow the skin to soften and help disinfect the ingrown toenail.
- After soaking your feet in hot water, pat them dry with a clean towel. Cut your nails straight. Remember, by cutting your nails round you are more likely to get an ingrown nail.
- Lift up the ingrown nail using a sterile tweezers carefully put a small piece of cotton under it. Remember, you should be patient and careful, never push too hard. The cotton is used to prevent any irritation and infection. After you have done this, wrap your toe with gauze.
- Your feet should breathe. Do not wear socks or shoes at home.
- Check your nail several times a day, and change the cotton at least once a day. By taking care of your hygiene you can say goodbye to your ingrown toenail in two weeks, once the new nail grows.
Extra tip: To prevent inflammation put a lemon slice on the nail and wrap it with gauze and leave it overnight. Lemons contain acid that prevents and fights infections.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Fortunately most ingrown toenails can be prevented. There are different ways for you to help minimize the occurrence of ingrown toenail, below are the two most common, and best, ways to prevent an ingrown toenail.
- Proper trimming. As mentioned above too short of nails is the most common cause of ingrown toenails. As such, proper trimming is the best is the best way to prevent ingrown toenails. Cut toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. You should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail.
- Well-fitted shoes and socks. Don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe area. Avoid shoes that are loose, because they too cause pressure on the toes, especially when running or walking briskly.