Onychocryptosis, or what we commonly know as an ingrown toenail, is a painful nail disease in which the nail grows directly into one or both sides of the nail bed, cutting it. This nail disease is generally found in those people who wear shoes for a long time on the daily basis. In this condition, a sharp or pointed nail digs inside the nail bed, causing pain and inflammation. The result of ingrown toenail is the discharge of yellow fluid and growth of extra tissue on toe. The avoidance of this disease is indispensable as it can lead to serious complications, like infection, abscess and even the danger of losing the toe.
Causes of Ingrown Toenail
The main reasons are:
- Poorly fitting shoes or high heels
- Excessive sweating in feet
- Injury to the toe
- Numbness in the toes
- Cutting the nails too short
- Damaged or improperly trimmed nail
- Vascular problems
- Fungal infection
- Bacterial infection
- Improper grooming of the feet
- Abnormally shaped nail beds
- Genetic susceptibility
- Nail malformations caused by other diseases
Symptoms of Ingrown Toenail
The signs and symptoms with which, we can identify the occurrence of ingrown toenail, are:
- Pain along the margins of the nail
- Pain while wearing footwear, which gets worsen with time
- Redness and swelling in the toenail
- Discharge of yellow fluid (pus)
- In some cases, an unusual fever also occurs
- Watery discharge with traces of blood
What to do for an ingrown toenail
There are a number of home remedies, which can be applied to heal and fix the problem of an ingrown toenail. Some home remedies to cure an ingrown toenail are as follows:
1. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt, or scientifically known as magnesium sulphate, has a range of different uses. However, there is a qualm whether the Epsom salt actually works for an ingrown toenail or not. But, it softens the skin of the affected area, which makes it easy to draw out the toenail from the skin. One can take treatment of Epsom salt by adding a large heap of it in water, and soaking in the foot for about 18-20 minutes. Repeat it two times a day. This is an effective remedy to heal an ingrown toenail.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Being a powerful disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide helps the skin around the ingrown toenail to get soft. It makes the lesion less painful and prevents further infection. Mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide in water and soak your foot in it for 15-20 minutes. It will provide relief to some extent from the ingrown toenail.
You can also directly apply hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball to the toenail, but, some doctors believe that direct application of undiluted hydrogen peroxide may rupture the healthy tissues of the skin.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an infallible treatment of many diseases. It is also helpful in the problem of ingrown toenail. Few tablespoons mixed in water for foot soaking or direct application of the apple cider vinegar; both are a natural homemade cure to fix the problem of ingrown toenail. The sufferer can also ingest a table spoon of apple cider vinegar orally as it directly mixes into the blood stream. It can be gulped down with honey as it is somewhat strong in taste.
4. Vicks VapoRub
This menthol-based ointment is also believed to be an excellent remedy for curing ingrown toenails. Vicks VapoRub can be directly applied to the ingrown toenail. It gives relief from chronic pain in the ingrown toenail and also encourages its fast healing.
5. White Flower Oil
This traditional Chinese healing oil does not actually obtain from a white flower but is made from an assortment of several herbal oils, like eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint oil. Application of a few drops of white flower oil on ingrown toenail helps in making the ingrown toenail go away.
Note: Do not ingest and keep it away from the eyes, mouth, and nose as this oil is toxic in nature. According to experts, the oil should be applied on the nearby area of the wound, and not directly on the wound.
6. Tea Tree Essential Oil/ Lavender Essential Oil
These natural antibiotics can also be applied on the ingrown toenail to get immediate relief from the problem of ingrown toenail.
7. Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano oil is considered to be an antibacterial, antiseptic and palliative agent, which provides quick relief from pain. Oregano oil mixed with some carrier, like olive oil, can be applied thrice a day directly on the ingrown toenail. Adults can also be ingested it by adding a few drops in water or juice or by simply putting a drop or two under the tongue.
- Do not use oregano oil during pregnancy.
- It should not be given to the children below the age of five.
- This oil may decrease the absorption of iron. Therefore, it is advisable to use the oil before or after two hours of consuming any iron supplement.
- Don’t use this remedy if you are allergic to marjoram, sage, thyme, mint, basil and hyssop.
- If you are taking it internally, it may cause vomiting, skin irritation or rashes. So, be cautious while taking it.
8. Antibacterial Soap
Soak the affected foot in warm water with one squirt of antibacterial soap. After drying the foot properly, place a piece of cotton under the ingrown toenail. Then, apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment and wrap it with a bandage. This is also an effective remedy to outgrow an ingrown toenail.
Take a thin slice of lemon. With the help of bandage or gauze, tie it on the toe. Leave it for the whole night. The acidity of the lemon will help in curing the infection.
How to cut an ingrown toenail?
It is not advisable to cut the ingrown toenail by yourself, and you should avoid it to the extent, you can. However, the method of cutting an ingrown toenail contains step by step instructions, which should be followed if you wish to cut them at yourself.
Step 1- Soak your feet in warm water mixed with either Epsom salt or antibacterial soap, for about 20 minutes to help soften the toenail and skin, and reducing swelling.
Step 2- Use your fingers to push back the swollen skin cautiously, this step causes pain. So, refrain yourself from pushing it more than the swollen skin allows.
Step 3- Cut the nail straight across, but not too much. Start with the edges of the toenail, protecting the swollen area. Remember to cut the nails from the sides and not from the middle as it can worsen the situation.
Step 4- Put a small piece of cotton between the ingrown nail and skin to avoid the ingrown toenail from coming back.
Step 5- Apply infection-preventing ointment to the affected area and bandage it properly. Neosporin is an excellent medicine for this.
Step 6- Remember not to wear socks and shoes while at home. Let the toe get some air. It helps in fast healing of the ingrown toenail.
Step 7- To prevent infection, change the cotton every alternate day.
Note: Do not try to cut ingrown toenail at your own if you have diabetes or any other problem that causes pain to your feet.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
You need to take a lot of measures to keep your feet healthy and prevent such problems from taking place in the future.
- Cut your toenails straight across.
- Maintain good standards of foot hygiene.
- Wash your feet regularly and thoroughly. Dry them properly.
- Wear comfortable and well-fitting footwear.
- Use a foot file or a pumice stone on a daily basis to avoid the formation of hard skin.
- Wear clean socks every day.
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.