This Little Piggy Went...Ouch! Tips for Treating an Ingrown Toe Nail

Posted on: 16 April 2015

As life's irritants go, an ingrown toe nail is up there with paper cuts and spam phone calls. At best, it can cause discomfort in certain shoes and at worst it can be excruciating to apply even the slightest amount of pressure. Take the right care though and you can avoid further pain and complications that can even require surgery if left untreated. Show that wayward nail whose boss with some of these top tips for treating an ingrown toe nail.

DO Trim the Nail Correctly

Always trim your toe nails straight across, not curved. In wanting to relieve discomfort, it can be tempting to cut the nail far shorter than the toe to ensure nail and skin won't be touching. But other than the fact this only gives temporary relief, it's pretty counterintuitive to treating an ingrown nail.

Cutting the nail square across conforms to the shape of your toe and this will prevent the nail from growing into the skin the next time your weight applies pressure to the foot—remember that improper grooming of the toes is a leading cause for ingrowing toe nails in the first place.

DO Let Your Feet Breathe

If you can help it, go barefoot as much as you can. Socks and closed shoes allow bacteria to grow more rapidly since your affected toe is trapped in a warm, damp environment. Also, avoid high-heeled shoes at all costs - these can hurt feet generally but they are a sworn enemy of the ingrown toe nail since all of your body weight essentially rests on your sore tippy toes. Give your toes a break and let them breathe as much as possible.

DON'T Wear Colourful Socks

No heels, no bright cheery socks—ingrown toe nails aren't doing much for your wardrobe yet, are they? Happily, these are only temporary measures to prevent any complications while the area attempts to heal. The dye in coloured socks can easily run when sweat comes into contact with the material and if the dye finds its way into the wound, it can increase your chances of infection. This goes for dyed hosiery too. The tight grip of stockings and pop socks do little favours for your toes too, so stick to breathable white cotton socks if you must wear some.

DO Keep to a Grooming Routine

There are two great home treatments you can try to help relieve discomfort from a mild ingrown toe nail - you can do these at least once daily or more regularly if this helps you.

1. Soaking the feet in Epson salts - soaking your toes in warm salty water for 15 to 30 minutes really helps to soften the skin around the toe nail. Epsom salts have anti-bacterial properties to help cleanse the affected area of the day's germ build-up. Feels pretty relaxing too!

2. The Lemon wedge treatment - sounding like a bizarre old wives' tale (that actually works!), placing a wedge of lemon on the toe overnight will make it easier to release the nail from its embedded skin. Overnight, the lemon works its magic to make the surrounding skin super soft, allowing the nail to be gently teased and separated more easily from the skin. You can place a cigar-shaped roll of cotton wool underneath the nail to promote healing too.

Regular care at home can keep your troublesome toe nails tamed. If the pain becomes severe, however, or the base of the nail produces a watery, blood-tinged discharge, this is usually a sign of infection. In this case, it's wise to make an appointment with a medical professional. Your local podiatrist will take preventative measures to ensure the nail can grow back comfortably. For more information, contact Bounce Podiatry