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9 Effective Ways to Fix Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is a common problem that happens when the side edge of a toenail grows into the skin tissue around it. According to statistics, 18% of US adults have experienced it at least once in their lives. It’s important to treat ingrown toenails as soon as they start, in order to prevent infection and keep it from getting worse.

Bright Side has gathered the most common and proven remedies against ingrown toenails. Remember, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Read carefully through this article in order to be aware of how to treat them if they occur.

1. Prepare a tub with Epsom salt.

Epsom salts are quite different from the regular, everyday salt that you use for cooking. The difference is that it contains minerals like sulfate and magnesium — which are the main benefits of this salt. Magnesium helps reduce inflammation, helps heal, reduces pain, and has many other supreme benefits. Although these benefits come from ingesting this salt, it has advantages when soaking in it as well. Since the ingrown nail has punctured the skin and is slowly growing into it, soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salt will help you to reduce any soreness and alleviate the pain. Also, the nail will get softer and easier to cut afterward.

  • Mix 2 tbsp of Epsom salt in warm water in a foot tub.
  • Hold your feet there for 15-20 minutes.
  • Try to repeat the procedure about 3 times a day for a better result.

2. Use apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is extremely beneficial to your skin. It is made from yeast and other bacteria — and when mixed, it creates something called acetic acid which is great for having anti-fungal properties. It helps soften wrinkles, alleviates acne, exfoliates your skin, and even eases the sunburn on your face. It seems that this remedy can work for almost every painful issue we encounter. Apple cider vinegar is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. It’ll help to prevent infection and relieve swollen skin.

When it comes to ingrown toenails, it can help your toe by soaking it 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes — and can relieve any kind of pain you may be experiencing. Along with that, there are also other alternatives that you can do to heal your little frienemy.

  • Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar.
  • Cover the toe with the soaked cotton ball and a bandage, and keep it like this for a couple of hours.
  • Dry the area thoroughly afterward.

3. Make turmeric paste.

Turmeric has been known for hundreds of years to have benefits, and people would use it as a beautifying and healing component. Its benefits come from curcumin, which includes anti-inflammatory properties. It can help your skin look healthy and bring out its natural glow, help with acne scarring and rashes, and most importantly, it’s a great and quick healer of wounds — like your ingrown toenail.

For your ingrown toenail, turmeric paste has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities, so it will reduce the swelling and the pain.

However, it is advisable to watch how much turmeric you apply to your body, as it can react negatively to any medications you might be taking.

  • Mix 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder with 1/2 tbsp of mustard oil.
  • Cover the affected toe with the paste and apply a bandage over it.
  • Keep it for about an hour.
  • Repeat the procedure 2-3 times daily.

4. Apply lemon juice and honey.

If you thought that honey can only be used as a natural sweetener, you are in for a surprise! Honey can be used for your beauty, health, and even as a disinfectant. More importantly, it can also be used to help heal your infected ingrown nail. Honey is used for people with weak and brittle nails, so applying honey a few times a week can be your new remedy.

Lemons, by themselves, have many natural ingredients that are beneficial for getting the nail out of your skin, and they have the ability to reduce the pain almost right away during this process. The way to do it is to apply lemon juice to your ingrown toenail. You can also wrap your lemon in a bandage and leave it on during the night until the next morning.

If you want to mix these 2 natural healers together, that can also help! Lemon and honey can have a great antimicrobial effect on the skin which can help them fight the possible infection in the affected toe.

  • Apply a drop of lemon juice and a little bit of honey right onto the toe.
  • Cover the toe with a bandage and leave it overnight.
  • Repeat the procedure every evening until the toe gets better.

5. Keep the nail raised with a cotton wedge.

If you want to try a different approach without using any ingredients, then there are some other simple recommendations you can try out. Slowly lift the ingrown toenail edge and put cotton under it. This will help detach the nail from your skin and can help aid your skin growth process in about 2 — 12 weeks. If you want to do it by yourself at home, then soak your toe and replace the cotton every day to get results.

If you are visiting a health care provider, there are also other approaches. They can tap on your nail, use tape, and pull the skin away from the nail with the tape. They may also try to remove the tissue and partially remove the nail.

In order to keep your toenail slightly raised, place a small cotton wedge under it.

  • Carefully lift the affected part of your nail with tweezers.
  • Place a small piece of cotton between the toenail and the skin.
  • Try to change the cotton wedge often, especially after soaking your toe in a foot tub.

6. Lift the nail with dental floss.

This works better right after soaking the toe in a foot tub, causing the skin and nail to get softer.

  • Carefully lift the edge of the ingrown toenail with a piece of clean, waxed dental floss.
  • Don’t dig too much into your toenail.
  • Repeat the procedure each time after soaking your foot.

7. Trim your toenails correctly.

According to professionals, it’s not a good idea to cut your ingrown toenails at home. If it starts to become troubling, painful, and is getting worse, then it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider in order to avoid infection. Cutting your ingrown nail, again and again, can make the problem much worse, and it’s also recommended to not clip or dig it out. If you happen to break the skin, then this might cause bacteria to enter and be very painful. In order to prevent ingrown toenails from recurring, learn how to trim your nails correctly.

What do to:

  • Always start trimming at the edges, not at the middle part.
  • The smoother the edge, the lesser the chance of getting an ingrown toenail. Avoid sharp edges.
  • Don’t cut them too short — they may dig into your skin as they keep growing.
  • Trim your toenails once every 2-3 weeks.

8. Wear comfortable shoes.

Wearing the right kind of shoes is crucial if you want to keep your toenail health on track. This is because when your feet are stuck inside really tight shoes for more than 8 hours a day, there is less airflow going through allowing bacteria to grow at a very fast pace — leading to an infected nail. Shoes also limit your blood flow, and your toes don’t have a chance to move freely and naturally.

Choose open-toed sandals and sensible footwear in order to provide extra room for your toes. An ideal variant would be those made of soft fabrics that allow your skin “to breathe” while leaving room for your toes. Actually, tight and uncomfortable shoes are one of the reasons toenails might start growing into the skin in the first place. High heels aren’t an option either, as they add pressure to the toes.

Avoid wearing loose-fitting shoes because they might be too stretched out and big for you, causing your toes to move around and not have any stability. This may also make your toes slide more to the front, and if this happens over and over again, it can cause irritation to your toenails. Instead, get some shoes that fit cozily and restfully without any gaps.

9. See your doctor.

If nothing helps and your toe doesn’t get better in 2-3 days, see your doctor. They might prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic. Your general practitioner is usually able to treat an ingrown toenail but if it looks like a complicated case and is painful with extreme swelling, you’ll probably want to see a podiatrist.

Have you ever experienced ingrown toenails? What helped you get rid of the problem? Help us to learn from your experience in the comments below.

Please note: This article was updated in June 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
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