An ingrown toenail results when pressure from the growing nail edge begins to dig into the skin of the toe. Once the edge of the nail breaks through the skin, it produces inflammation. Known as onychocryptosis, it is a common problem. When the corner or side edge of a toenail grows into the soft flesh of the skin, it obviously causes quite a bit of discomfort – if you’re suffering from one now, or have in the past, we don’t have to tell you just how painful it can be.
Often, it starts out as fairly minor discomfort, but as it progresses, it becomes much worse, and an infection can occur in the skin, which why it can become difficult to treat. Signs of infection include redness and swelling around the nail, drainage of pus and watery discharge tinged with blood.
Often a recurring problem, there are a number of risk factors that increase the odds of one experiencing an ingrown toenail, including these:
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, either too large or too small
- Participating in sports that require a lot of stops and starts like soccer, tennis, and basketball
- Trauma to the feet
- Repetitive pressure on the feet
- Poor foot hygiene
- Unusually curved toenails.
- Improper trimming of the nails
- Abnormal gait
- Unusually long toes
- Foot or toe deformities like bunions
Specific conditions can also make it more likely to develop an ingrown toenail, such as having diabetes, being obese, arthritis and fungal infections. The warm, moist environment of the feet make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi like Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, dermatophytes, Candida, and Trichophyton. When there is a break in the skin around the nail border, it makes it easier for these organisms to invade the area and cause an infection. It’s important to get treated for those infections to maintain healthy toenails and feet.
Fortunately, when caught in the early stages, an ingrown toenail can be corrected at home, but if an infection develops, a physician should be consulted.
1. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is something everyone should have in their home as it has the ability to heal and treat a long list of conditions, including ingrown toenails, thanks to its powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its acidic nature which comes together to prevent infection. As it also offers antibacterial characteristics, it can help the area stay clean as it heals.
There are several ways you can use it:
- Add a quarter cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to warm water in a foot tub. Soak the affected toenail in the solution for about 30 minutes. Afterward, dry your foot and toenail area thoroughly. Repeat two to three times each day until it’s healed.
- Soak a cotton ball in raw, unfiltered apple vinegar. Place it onto the ingrown toenail and then cover it up using a bandage. Allow it to sit for two to three hours before removing it.
- In addition to using one of the methods above, drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in 8 ounces of water once or twice per day until the problem has resolved to address it from the inside out. The apple cider vinegar is absorbed directly into the bloodstream to encourage healing. If you don’t like the taste, add a bit of raw honey.
2. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt scientifically referred to as magnesium sulfate, is a drying agent that is known to help soothe and heal the skin. It offers a number of health benefits, and it can also serve as a disinfectant to help heal the ingrown nail. It will soften the skin around the affected area to make it easier to draw out the ingrown nail as well as reduce the inflammation.
To use Epsom salt, combine a tablespoon in a foot tub that’s been filled with warm water. Soak your foot in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes. Afterward, be sure to dry your feet and the area around the ingrown toenail thoroughly. Repeat three to four times a week until the area is healed. As the salt is able to penetrate the painful area of the skin and nail, it will also relieve the pain in the meantime.
Turmeric is that bright yellow spice frequently used in Indian dishes like curry, but it also has a long history of medicinal use, with a wide variety of benefits, primarily thanks to a compound known as curcumin, which offers anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It’s great for relieving the discomfort of an ingrown toenail, including decreasing the pain, swelling and inflammation.
You have a couple options for using turmeric powder.
- Mix a half teaspoon of turmeric powder with a just a bit of mustard oil, enough to make a paste. Rub the paste over the affected area and then cover it up with a bandage. Repeat the process at least twice a day, switching out the bandage with a clean one each time. Do this until it’s healed, which is generally within about three days.
- Purchase an antibiotic cream that contains curcumin and apply it to the area and bandage the toe as per the above, reapplying two or three times each day.
- In addition to utilizing one of the methods listed, it’s a good idea to consume turmeric to help reduce inflammation and swelling of the ingrown toenail from the inside as its powerful compounds will get into the bloodstream and encourage healing while reducing the pain. You can add a teaspoon to a glass of warm water or milk and drink it, as well as add it to dishes like scrambled eggs when cooking.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an especially effective home remedy for healing an ingrown toenail. It’s a disinfectant that will reduce your risk of infection while also relieving the pain and inflammation that’s caused by the ingrown toenail. It also helps to soften the skin so that the nail can be trimmed more easily.
To use hydrogen peroxide, combine a half cup with warm water in a foot tub. Soak your affected foot in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes twice each day until it heals.
No matter what method you use, you might want to include this one too as cotton can be key to curing an ingrown toenail at home. Placing pieces of a clean cotton ball between the ingrown toenail helps to keep it separated while helping to cushion the skin. It’s even more effective if you soak the cotton in antiseptic cleaner or hydrogen peroxide first.
Leave the cotton there as long as possible, and add antibiotic ointment to lessen the chances of infection.
6. White Flower Oil
White flower oil is a traditional healing oil that works well for fighting the pain of an ingrown toenail. The oil is produced from a number of different essential oils, including lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus oil. Applying white flower oil to the affected area can also help reduce any infection that may be around the nail, or prevent one from developing in the first place.
Soak a cotton ball in white flower oil and then gently rub it around the problem area. Avoid applying it directly to your ingrown toenail. Be aware that this is an oil you never want to ingest as it’s considered to be poisonous.
7. Super Potent Ingrown Toenail Recipe
Using a combination of powerful essential oils, you can make your own incredibly effective ointment for healing that ingrown toenail. The right blend of essential oils can help relieve pain and swelling, as well as prevent infection. You can gently rub it onto the nail and surrounded area to promote faster healing and enjoy much-needed relief too.
To make it, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 ounces aloe vera gel
- 2 ounces coconut oil
- 2 drops peppermint oil
- 5 drops eucalyptus oil
- 5 drops tea tree oil
- 1 drop oregano oil
- 5 drops lavender oil
Place all of the ingredients in a lidded glass jar. Mix together using a small spoon until well-blended. Gently cleanse your toe, rinse and pat dry. Apply the appointment across the affected area. Allow it to air dry by going barefoot or wearing open-toed shoes like flip-flops. If you must wear regular shoes, loosely bandage the toe first – and wear the loosest fitting shoes you have. You’ll need to repeat the process two to three times each day in order for it to heal. Don’t leave out any of the ingredients, particularly the coconut oil as it serves as a carrier oil to prevent the ointment from becoming too potent, creating a burning sensation.
8. Oregano Essential Oil
If you don’t have a lot of different essential oils on hand and don’t want to purchase all of those listed in the previous recipe, you might also try combining oregano essential oil with a carrier oil to create an effective solution. Oregano is a common spice used in many foods, but high-quality oregano essential oil (like this one available on Amazon), particularly oil that’s been produced from wild oregano known as Origanum vulgare, offers excellent therapeutic antibiotic effects and is well-known for its bacteria-killing abilities. In fact, research has found that its germ-killing properties can be nearly as effective as most prescription antibiotics. It also contains antiseptic, antiviral, antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
In addition to helping to heal your ingrown toenail, you can also use it to fight other foot and nail problems ie fungus. There are two options, you can add a teaspoon of oregano essential oil to a small tub of warm water and soak the feet for 20 to 30 minutes, or you can dilute a drop of oregano essential oil with a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil and then place it directly onto the affected area.
9. Dental Floss
You can also use dental floss to help correct the problem. Placing the floss underneath the edge of the ingrown nail can help to shift the nail, causing it to grow in the direction it’s supposed to, rather than down into the skin. If possible, lift the corner of the nail that’s digging in – soaking it in hydrogen peroxide first can help make it easier as it softens the skin. Then roll the floss between your fingers to form a small wick before placing it between your skin and the ingrown nail. Avoid using a flavored version of floss, like mint, as you could experience a burning sensation.
The goal is to keep the nail raised long enough so that it will grow out and away from your skin. While it can be somewhat uncomfortable, it is quite effective. You can take this treatment up a notch by soaking your foot thoroughly first, using one of the methods previously discussed, such as the Epsom salt soak, and then try to push the rolled dental floss in as far as you can. Be sure to change it out daily.
Keep in mind that it can take a week or two for the nail to grow out, so you’ll need to have some patience. You may need to carefully cut the nail first in order to get under it – here’s how:
To cut your ingrown toenail, first, soak your feet in Epsom salt using the directions stated above. Be sure to leave them in for at least the 20 minutes to ensure your skin and toenail are softened, and swelling is reduced. Then, using clean fingers push back the swollen skin gently, but don’t force it back more than it allows. Cut the nail straight across, starting with the edges of the toenail, cutting from the sides and not the center. Place a small piece of cotton between the nail and the skin to encourage it to grow in the right direction. Ideally, you should use the ointment recipe provided, and apply it to the affected area afterward before carefully bandaging it up. Be sure to change the cotton at least once per day to prevent infection.