How to Take Care of Ingrown Toenails at Home

Apr 6, 2022

What Are Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are a common condition experienced by most people at some stage in life. Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail’s edge curves into the skin and continues to grow inward. The big toe is the usual culprit, and it usually causes redness, swelling, and pain.

This can easily happen when people cut the corner of their toenails at an angle or round the edges of the nail. When the toenail curves toward the skin, it’s only natural that it will continue to grow in that direction.

This foot condition can occur in anyone, although there are a few people at higher risk. Young people, athletes, and people with diabetes have a greater chance of developing an ingrown toenail.

An inherited irregular toenail shape is the most common cause of ingrown toenails, but there are a few other common causes. Improperly cutting the toenail at an angle or tearing the nails can also lead to this condition. Tight-fitting shoes put excessive pressure on the big toe, forcing the toenail into the skin. Traumatic injuries like stubbing, dropping an object on a toe, or someone stepping on the toes during an athletic competition can also result in an ingrown toenail.

Treating Ingrown Toenail with Soak

How to Diagnose Ingrown Toenails

If the side of your toe begins to feel hard or swollen, you may be dealing with an ingrown toenail. Although this may be painful, there’s no real cause for concern until redness and or drainage develops. This occurs when the nail has punctured the skin, allowing bacteria to enter. You know the toe is infected when you see: pus or liquid in the toenail area, intense pain, redness, swelling, and a warm feeling around the toe.

Although an ingrown toenail can cause pain and sometimes even difficulty standing or walking, there’s no need to see a physician immediately unless you are a diabetic and/or have peripheral vascular disease. An ingrown toenail is easily diagnosable, and treatment is straightforward, as long as you handle it before infection sets in.

Here are a few methods to treat an ingrown toenail at home.

Treatments for Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are easily treatable without having to visit us. Follow these steps to prevent pain and hopefully keep infection at bay.

  • Soak in Warm Water. Soaking the affected toe in a warm Epsom salt solution will reduce swelling and ease the pain caused by the ingrown toenail. Do this up to three times a day, 15-20 minutes at a time.
  • Trim the Nail Properly. When cutting your toenails, be sure to cut them straight across, without rounding the edges. Although this tip is more important as a prevention, it is still important to remember when dealing with an already ingrown toenail.
  • Properly Fitting Shoes. Stay away from shoes or socks that squeeze your toes. Your toes beds need space to keep the ingrown toenail from getting worse. If you can, stick to open-toed shoes to prevent further pain and damage to the toe area. This will limit the pressure on your toe and possibly allow it to heal.
  • Antibiotic Cream. To keep the toenail from getting infected, choose an over-the-counter antibiotic cream. Apply the cream to the affected area up to three times a day, after soaking in the Epsom salts, and wrap it loosely in a bandage.
  • Pain Reliever. Although over-the-counter pain relievers (Ibuprofen, Aleve, or Tylenol) won’t do anything to cure the affected toe, they will help you manage the pain. Ingrown toenails can be painful while standing, walking, or running, and even in bed at night with the weight of the covers on the toes.

When to See Us for Ingrown Toenails

Although ingrown toenails are not innately serious, they can lead to a more serious limb-threatening infection especially if you are a diabetic and/or suffer from peripheral vascular disease. If you have either of these conditions, you should schedule an appointment as soon as symptoms first occur.

If you’ve tried these home remedies and nothing is working, then it’s time to visit our office. If you notice that the area is becoming infected, then definitely contact us before the problem becomes more severe. If left untreated, the infection could spread to the bone.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Bobrowski at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry in New Bern. Give us a call at (252) 638-4700 or request an appointment online.