What are Ingrown Toenails?
Ingrown toenails can be incredibly painful, irritating, and can make it hard to wear shoes or walk normally in some cases. An ingrown toenail is exactly what it sounds like: when the toenail (or part of the toenail) grows into the skin and flesh that surrounds it, making it inaccessible to toenail clippers.
Ingrown toenails can be caused by a variety of things, including clipping toenails too short, wearing footwear that pinches your toes or is otherwise ill-fitting, trauma to the area, and certain genetic conditions.
The best cause of action to take if you suspect you might have an ingrown toenail is to see us as soon as possible. This will grant you some relief and prevent any complications that might happen if the toenail is allowed to continue growing into the surrounding skin.
However, there are some things that you can do at home to ease the pain and irritation until you can see our team of experts. Here are a few suggestions for home remedies, as well as some things that you definitely shouldn’t do for your ingrown toenails:
Types of Home Remedy Treatments for Ingrown Toenails
Soak in Warm, Soapy Water
A soak in warm, soapy water will soften the nail and the surrounding skin, relieving the pressure and offering some relief. Also, the soap works to keep the area clean, preventing infection from starting before you can see us. Doing this regularly is a good option for home care for your ingrown toenails.
Soak in Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can also help with the inflammation surrounding the ingrown toenail. It’s powerfully potent, though, so be sure to dilute it in warm water. A ratio of one-quarter cup of apple cider vinegar to a basin of warm water is a good measurement to start with.
Soak in Epsom Salt Solution
Epsom salts are great for “drawing” things out, and while they won’t remove the toenail from your surrounding skin, they can help relieve the pain and pressure that the ingrown toenail causes. Adding a couple of tablespoons to a basin filled with warm water and soak for 10-20 minutes will help to provide some much-needed relief.
Hydrogen Peroxide Cleanse
Hydrogen Peroxide is another powerful disinfectant and helps keep your ingrown toenails clean and free from infection. Adding a small amount to your basin of warm water will help to keep the area clean, however, it works best on fresh wounds and shouldn’t be the only remedy used.
Wear Comfortable, Correct-Fitting Shoes
Since ill-fitting footwear is one of the causes of ingrown toenails, it only makes sense that comfortable, well-fitted shoes help relieve the irritation. Doing this as a general rule may even help to prevent the condition in some cases. Ensure that your shoes have plenty of room for your toes and that they don’t pinch, squeeze, or rub your feet.
Apply Antibiotic Ointments
Antibiotic ointments are helpful in the prevention of harmful bacteria, but they also help some wounds to heal faster as well as help with pain and irritation. Applying them when the ingrown toenail first occurs is the best course of action, and subsequently afterward.
What Not to do for Ingrown Toenails
Do Not Perform “Bathroom Surgery”
Some ingrown toenails require surgery to be completely resolved, but this is in a small number of cases and should only be done by a licensed professional. However, some people try this at home in a desperate attempt to find relief — which is a very bad idea.
While it may be tempting to try “bathroom surgery” to remove the ingrown toenail yourself, don’t. The risks far outweigh the reward in this situation, and you could end up hurting yourself badly.
Also, attempting to cut into your flesh without proper training or sterilization can result in serious infection, so your best bet is to allow the professionals to do this if they deem it necessary.
Do Not Take Medicine or Apply Prescription Antibiotics without a Doctor’s Direction
While it’s understandable to think that any medicine will help when you need relief from pain and irritation, it’s not a good idea to take it without a doctor’s recommendation. Taking someone else’s medicine, expired medicine, or old prescriptions is not a good idea.
Taking the wrong medicine or applying prescription antibiotics without the approval of a doctor can be more harmful than helpful. At the very least, it won’t do anything at all, but it can also make you sick — and in certain cases, it can make your condition worse than before you took it.
Each medicine is designed to help a specific set of conditions and the dosage must be accurate for it to work, which is why you need a doctor’s prescription. See your doctor or our team to ensure you get the right medication.
If Infected or Very Painful, see Us to Ensure Proper Treatment
If none of the home remedies you’ve tried are helping, you suspect the ingrown toenail is infected, or you are in a lot of pain, seeing a professional podiatrist is the best choice.
They’ll know how to best treat your ingrown toenail so you can finally get the relief you need and return to your normal activities as soon as possible. If you’re unsure about anything related to your ingrown toenail, they can advise which remedies might work for you.
As with any health condition, professionals know what works and what doesn’t. Seeing a professional podiatrist is hands down the best option for fast recovery from your ingrown toenail, as well as any other foot-related conditions.
Contact us Today for Ingrown Toenail Treatments
For questions, concerns, and care regarding your ingrown toenail, Advanced Ankle & Foot can help. We’re experienced in all things your feet and ankles might need, including the treatment and relief from pain caused by ingrown toenails.
Contact us today for an appointment or call our offices and let’s get your ingrown toenail healed! We’re happy to answer any questions and would love to help you through your healing process.