Tips from our Experts: Prevent and Treat Ingrown Toenails at Home

Treating and Preventing ingrown Toenail at Home

There is a very old story about a man named Androcles who was walking in a forest when he hears a loud roar. Androcles tries to run away but he trips on a tree root, injures his leg, and is unable to escape. A lion appears from behind the trees. However, the man notices that the lion is whimpering and crying. The lion slowly limps towards the man and holds out his paw that has a thorn stuck in it. The story illustrates that a small object such as a thorn can bring a mighty lion to tears.

Let’s be clear, Ingrown toenails can hurt… a lot!

However, for some of us the agony portrayed in this story is all too real. Certain foot conditions can have a similar effect on people. An ingrown toenail is one such ailment. If not treated properly, it can cause misery with every single step

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition that often affects the big toe. It occurs when a toenail pierces into the skin rather than growing over it. Symptoms of an ingrown nail can include toe pain, swelling, redness, and drainage. An ingrown nail can also cause a cut in the skin.

This creates a portal of entry for bacteria to penetrate the surface of the skin and can result in an infection. The most common causes of ingrown toenails are improper trimming techniques, increased curvature or thickness of the nail, history of trauma to the area, and wearing tight shoes

Home remedies for ingrown toenails

There are certain treatment options that can be started at home with early signs of an ingrown nail:

  • Soaking the foot in warm water 2-3 times a day. Epsom salt can be added for additional relief. Do not use hot water as this can worsen the inflammation
  • Applying a thin layer of over-the-counter topical antibiotic ointment to the affected area. This will protect the area from infection and soften the skin around the sharp nail edge
  • Avoiding tight fitting footwear
  • Filing down any visible sharp edges of nail
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide pain relief

When is it time to see a podiatrist about an ingrown toenail?

If you try my tips above and your symptoms do not improve within 24 hours contact our clinic to schedule an appointment. If there is pus, red streaks going up the foot, nausea, vomiting, fevers, or chills please seek medical attention as soon as possible.

It is important to know that patients with diabetes, AIDS, peripheral neuropathy (nerve disease), poor circulation, currently on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medication, and the elderly need to be followed closely by a medical professional.

These populations are especially vulnerable to poor healing and infection.

Improper nail trimming is a leading cause of ingrown nails

With improper nail trimming techniques being one of the leading risk factors of ingrown nails, it is important to know how to trim your toenails.

So for your nail trimming pleasure, I present you 8 nail-cutting techniques to avoid having an ingrown toenail!:

  1. Use a toenail clipper with a straight edge rather than a curved one
  2. Cutting nails while they are dry is best since it provides a cleaner cut. However, if your toenails are thick, hard, and difficult to trim you may have to soak your feet first or cut them after showering. This makes the toenails softer and easier to trim
  3. Try to trim the toenail as straight across as possible. The nail bed should be only slightly shorter than the tip of the toe. Do not cut the nails too short
  4. Make multiple small cuts rather than taking fewer larger ones
  5. Trimming toenails is different from trimming your fingernails. Resist the temptation to trim the entire loose white portion of the nail off. Do not cut down into the corners of the nail
  6. File down any obvious sharp or jagged edges with a nail file
  7. Do not push back the cuticle as this can expose bacteria to the base of the nail and cause an infection
  8. Trim your toenails more frequently if you are active

The story of Androcles and the lion closes with a happy ending when he pulls out the thorn from the lions paw. The lion returns the favor by bringing Androcles food until he is strong enough to walk again.

One lesson that we can take away from this story is that it is important for us to know when to seek help in order to avoid unnecessary suffering. Especially when it comes to dealing with an issue that another person can help us with. Podiatrists deal with ingrown toenails frequently and can quickly assess and treat the problem to have you back on your feet pain free.

If you would like to find a solution to your ingrown toenail or any other foot care needs, we encourage you to call us (877) 736-6001 or click here to request an appointment online.

Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

Dr. Avanti Redkar is board certified in podiatric medicine and joined University Foot and Ankle Institute under a fellowship in sports medicine and ankle reconstruction. She attended podiatry school at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and went on to complete her surgical residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York, where she was trained in foot and rearfoot surgery, wound care, and hyperbaric medicine.

Dr. Redkar specializes in foot and ankle pathology and is available for consult at our Mid-Wilshire Los Angeles and Beverly Hills locations.
Dr. Avanti Redkar, DPM

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