Ingrown toenails are one of the most common feet problems people have to deal with. It can affect you regardless of your age and sex, even though some people have bigger predispositions to develop ingrown toenails. Once it happens, depending on the degree of the problem, you can feel discomfort taking every step or even feel excruciating pain, no matter what position you are in.
Onychocryptosis, as ingrown toenails are referred to in medical terms, is a condition that causes the corner or the side of the toenail grow into the flesh on both sides of the nail bed. When untreated, ingrown toenails can lead to a serious inflammation and may require a surgery. That’s why you should deal with the problem as soon as you notice first symptoms of ingrown toenails.
Causes Of Ingrown Nails
There are many factors that can influence the occurrence of ingrown nails. You are more prone to onychocryptosis if you wear tight shoes that put pressure on your toes if you use an improper technique to cut the nails and don’t cut it straight across or if you don’t groom your feet properly and let the excessive sweat cause bacterial and fungal infections. Maintaining your feet clean and dry is especially important when you are a teenager and your feet naturally perspire more.
Older people also tend to have more problems with ingrown toenails because with time the toenail get thicker and it’s easier for them to cut into the soft skin on the sides of the nail bed. Some factors causing ingrown toenails are related to genetics, like the shape of the toenail or susceptibility to onychocryptosis. Others may result from overall health problems, e.g. diabetes, problems with blood circulation or thyroid.
Symptoms Of Ingrown Nails
Whoever suffered from an ingrown toenail knows the pain it can cause. At the beginning, it only occurs when you walk, but the deeper the toenail gets in, the more often the pain bothers you. Ultimately, you feel the toenail cutting into your flesh even when you lie down. Visual symptoms of ingrown toenails range from redness and swelling on the skin around the nail bed to discharge containing pus or blood. It most commonly affects the big toe, but can also occur in other toes or even fingers.
Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenail
In the initial stages, an ingrown toenail can be cured at home with some simple home remedies. They give best results when you use two or three different treatments interchangeably in order to fight the problem and prevent the reoccurrence at the same time.
Antibacterial Soap and Epsom Salt
The most important step you should take when you’re trying to get rid of ingrown toenails is to keep your feet clean and dry to avoid the development of fungus and bacteria. That’s why it’s a good idea to soak the feet every day in warm water with some magnesium sulphate, commonly called Epsom salt. Add a handful of the salt into a basin filled with water and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Then dry them well with a clean towel. After you soak the feet, you can try to draw out the ingrown nail. It will be much easier to do it once the nail is softened with water and Epsom salt.
If you don’t have time to soak your feet every day, at least wash your feet with antibacterial soap twice a day. You can also apply some antibacterial ointment on the affected area.
Apple Cider Vinegar
You can try soaking your feet in warm water with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar to kill the bacteria and prevent infections. This solution also softens the toenail and slightly soothes the pain. In more advanced stages of the condition, you can also apply diluted apple cider vinegar directly onto the affected toe and wrap it with a clean bandage. Wear it overnight, or during the day – of you’re comfortable enough with it – then remove it, wash your feet with an antibacterial soap, dry them well and let the nail and the toe breathe for a few hours before you repeat the treatment.
Another way to maintain the area of ingrown nail bacteria-free and to make it softer is the application of hydrogen peroxide directly onto it. If you have very sensitive skin, you can dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water and apply it with a cotton ball. Alternatively, you can soak your feet for 20 minutes daily in a solution of half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with five cups of warm water. Dry your feet well afterwards and intend to wear open shoes in order to let the skin breathe and to not put pressure on the toenails.
Weird as it may seem, dental floss can be of a great help when you deal with the problem of ingrown toenails. After you soak and dry your feet, take a small piece of dental floss and insert it gently between the corner of the nail and the skin. Try to push it as deep as you can, but don’t force it too much so that you don’t hurt the sensitive skin. Make sure the dental floss you use in this method is not flavoured as it may irritate the skin. Leave the floss under the nail until the next time you soak or wash your feet, which you should be doing twice a day. The idea is to push the toenail to grow into the right direction. Since the nail may take up to two or three weeks to grow out, depending on the person, it might be a bit bothersome to keep going with this treatment, but it can give very good results. Don’t get pushed off at the beginning by the discomfort the dental floss under your nail can cause. After two or three days of the treatment, you won’t notice its presence and it will be helping you heal your toe 24 hours a day.
Another unusual product that can be used to cure ingrown toenails is Vicks VapoRub. It’s based on menthol, which brings relief in pain and has antibacterial properties. Apply the ointment directly onto the affected toenail and the skin around it, then secure it with a clean bandage. It’s best to to leave it to work overnight as the bandage might cause discomfort during the day, when you chave to walk. Also, there will be a smaller chance it will slip off when you rest than when you are active. Repeat the treatment every day for at least two weeks to reduce the pain and inflammation and to soften the toenail.
There is a wide variety of essential oils may also bring relief when you have an ingrown toenail. You just need to know which ones to choose and how to apply them properly. The most efficient essential oils for the treatment of ingrown toenails are the ones the have antibacterial and softening properties.