An ingrown toenail occurs when the toenail grows into the flesh. Having an ingrown toenail not only causes untold pain but it also comes along with a lot of discomfort. Unfortunately, when one has an ingrown toenail, the pain is aggravated by simple activities such as walking.
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Exercising becomes hard and wearing shoes especially the closed ones becomes hard. If not treated, the ingrown toenail can become affected, further hampering the affected person’s movements. This article focuses on the causes of this problem and how to get rid of an ingrown toenail.
What causes ingrown toenails?
Multiple reasons exist as to how this problem develops. It can affect people at any age and studies have shown that men are more affected as compared to women. Some of the common causes include:
- Cutting toenails in an improper manner
- Wearing shoes that are tight
- Trauma to the toenails
- Problems brought about by the anatomy such as the thickening of the nail plate
- Toenails that are shaped like spincers
- Some medication such as isotretinoin which is used to treat acne
- Some people have genetic disposition to this condition
- Poor foot hygiene
- Unusually shaped toenails
What symptoms do ingrown toenails exhibit?
If one exhibits the symptoms listed below, there is a very high chance that one has an ingrown toenail. One can seek medical attention to verify if it is the case if one is not quite sure if that is what they are suffering from.
- One experiences a lot of pain and tenderness along one or both sides of the affected toenail.
- The affected toe suffers from redness
- The area around the nail swells
- The tissue around the toenail can get infected
How to get rid of an ingrown toenail
One does not have to seek medical attention in order to treat an ingrown toenail as there are home remedies for ingrown toenail removal. However, this is dependent on the stage at which the ingrown toenail is at and whether there is any infection associated with the ingrown toenail. Supposing that the symptoms have just started exhibiting themselves, one can treat the toenail at home using a few simple steps.
To decide on how to deal with an ingrown toenail, one must first know what stage one is at. Generally, ingrown toenails are classified into three. The first class or stage is mild. At this stage, one experiences swelling, pain that is accompanied by pressure as well as redness. The second stage is moderate. At this stage, one experiences an increase in the swelling, infections and development of sores. The third stage is known as severe. At this point, one experiences severe inflammation as well as enlargement of the toenail area.
For stage one, the symptoms can be dealt with without the need for medical attention by using home remedies for ingrown toenails.
For stage two and three, one is required to seek urgent medical care as the problem could progress, causing more discomfort.
The following are some of the home remedies for ingrown toenail infections:
- Soaking the foot
If you are wondering how to get rid of an ingrown toenail fast, this is the way to go. Soaking the foot in soapy warm water helps to keep infections at bay by keeping the area clean. This can be done at least three times a day in order to reap maximum benefits. Warm water helps the skin soften to enable one to remove the ingrown toenail from the skin. Epsom salt can be added to the water to further soften the skin. Removing the toenail and keeping the area clean prevents the chances of infection.
- Use of castile soap
One might not be in a position to have the time to soak the foot in warm water thrice a day. If this is the case, one can wash the affected toenail with castile soap at least twice a day. This also helps in softening the skin to make removal of the ingrown toenail easy. One should ensure that the affected area remains dry after it has been washed to prevent infections.
- Apple cider vinegar
This has to be one of the most used home remedies. It seems that apple cider vinegar can be used for most things from treating dandruff to getting rid of ingrown toenails. It can be used in two ways. One can opt to add half a cup of the apple cider vinegar to a basin of warm water in order to soak the foot. One can also decide to apply the apple cider vinegar directly to the foot after diluting it with equal parts water. Though apple cider vinegar cannot deal with bacterial infections once they have occurred, its great antibacterial properties can keep bacteria at bay to prevent infections.
- Use of dental floss, cotton or gauze
One can change the nail’s course of direction by lifting the part where the nail is growing into the skin and placing either dental floss, a small piece of cotton or a small piece of gauze there. Dental floss is the preferred material and one has to be careful so as not to use flavored floss which can be very irritating to the skin. To place the choice material beneath the nail, it is advisable to first soak the foot in warm water for a while to soften the area so as to make placement easy. The material placed under the nail has to be changed out on a daily basis to avoid the occurrence of an infection. One can increase the amount of material being placed under the nail with time. Though this process is quite uncomfortable, results are usually seen in about two weeks. In some cases, one may need to cut the ingrown toenail in order to place the choice material between the nail and the skin. If that happens to be the case, one can follow the following simple steps:
- Soak the affected foot in warm water for about half an hour to allow the toenail area to soften. Adding castile soap or Epsom salt can help to soften the skin further.
- Clean your hands and use them to push the swollen skin back. Care should be taken so as not to push the skin further than it can go as this can cause infections and more pain.
- Using a clean nail cutter, start cutting the toenail from the side and not from the middle. Make sure that you cut across and not diagonally.
- Place a small piece of the choice material into the space.
One can speed up the healing process by applying ointment onto the area.
- Wear comfortable shoes
Given that uncomfortable shoes have been linked to the development of ingrown toenails due to the pressure that they put on the toenails, one should wear comfortable shoes. High heels and shoes that are tight should be avoided especially if one already has an ingrown toenail as these shoes can aggravate the problem. Not only will such shoes be uncomfortable but they will also delay the healing period. When one is suffering from an ingrown toenail, wearing sandals is advisable. One should avoid wearing socks at this time too. Open air is advised.
- Use of essential oils
These oils are known to improve one’s moods and induce sleep, but did you know that they are also used in treating ingrown toenails? You can create your own blend of oils and massage them onto the affected area. Great oils for this purpose include but are not limited to coconut, rosemary, tea tree, clove, Cyprus and lavender.
- Use of turmeric
Turmeric is not only used in food and face masks but it is also quite effective when it comes to treating ingrown toenails. This is because it contains curcumin which has great antibacterial properties. Turmeric acts by decreasing the level of swelling on the affected area as well as reducing the pain and discomfort associated with an ingrown toenail. One can use it in various ways. The first method involves mixing a teaspoon of turmeric with mustard oil to make a paste. One then rubs the paste onto the affected area and covers it up with a clean cloth or a bandage. This process is repeated twice daily for at least three days, by which time the area will have healed. The second option is to get an ointment that contains curcumin and using it on the affected area twice a day for at least three days. In this case, the area also has to be covered with a cloth. The third method is used in combination with any one of the two methods above. One can consume the turmeric by using it in food. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties will work from within to help the affected area heal faster.
- Hydrogen peroxide
This disinfectant is very useful at keeping infections at bay. To use it, pour half a cup of it into warm water and soak the affected foot for about half an hour. Not only will this soften the affected area but it will also rid the area of any pathogens. Doing this twice a day will go a long way in healing the affected area.
- Using white flower oil
This oil is derived from a number of essential oils. It works by reducing infections where they are present and where they are not, it works by preventing them. To use this oil, dip a clean cotton ball or cloth into the oil and rub the cloth or cotton ball on the affected area. One should be very careful when using this oil as it is poisonous when ingested.
- Use of oregano essential oil
If one does not want to go through the hassle of combining different essential oils to make a blend, this is the way to go. This common spice has the following properties: anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain relieving. There are two ways in which this oil can be used. One can use a tablespoon of the oil into warm water to be used to soak the affected foot or one can dilute the oil with an equal part olive oil and apply it directly on the affected part.
- Lemon slices
If you are wondering how you can get rid of an ingrown toenail overnight, lemon slices are the answer. What one needs to do is to cut up a lemon, get a slice of it and place it next to the affected toenail, fasten a cloth around the toenail and await the results. The germ killing properties of lemons are bound to get rid of any infection that could occur.
- Vicks Vaporub
This cold medication works wonders when it comes to alleviating the discomfort associated with ingrown toenails. It works by reducing the pain and promoting fast healing of the ingrown toenail. One can apply this ointment to the affected toenail at least twice a day after cleaning the area and patting it dry.
How can one prevent ingrown toenails?
Prevention is better than cure. That has been tested and proven time and time again. So, how does one go about preventing ingrown toenails?
- When cutting toenails, cut them across, starting from the sides and working towards the middle. Toenails should not be cut diagonally.
- Good standards of foot hygiene are required. Regular cleaning and trimming of the toenails is key to prevention. Regular washing of the feet is necessary as well as patting them dry after cleaning. Fungus has been linked to ingrown toenails.
- Wear comfortable shoes and avoid ill fitting shoes
- Use a foot file or a pumice stone on your feet to prevent the formation of hard skin
- It is necessary to wear clean socks on a daily basis
An ingrown toenail can affect anyone at any age. There are people who are at more risk of developing it than others such as those with some form of toe deformities. It is important for people to make use of home remedies to get rid of an infected ingrown toenail before it gets worse, after all prevention is better than cure!