Anyone who has ever dealt with an ingrown toenail knows how unpleasant and painful they can quickly become. The medical term is Unguis incarnatus and if left untreated it can become more than just an annoyance.
Ingrown toenails won’t heal by themselves and if the affected area becomes infected, surgical intervention may be necessary. This is why you should act beforehand so that it doesn’t advance to this stage. But why do toenails even become ingrown in the first place?
First of all, it is important to know that any finger or toe can be affected. However, most often it is the big toe that is affected. While genetic factors can play a role, there are often other reasons that cause ingrown nails. These include the following:
Poorly fitting shoes
Shoes that are too tight or don’t fit properly can be quite a pain for toes. The edge of the nail can dig in underneath the skin, causing it to grow in the wrong direction.
Poor nail care
In contrast to fingernails, you should not cut your toenails in the shape of an oval but rather straight. Otherwise, they can get pushed under the skin and start to grow in.
Injuries can also be a cause for ingrown toenails. If your nails get pressed under the skin after you accidentally stub your foot, the nail skin will close over the nail quickly and cause it to grow together poorly.
People with diabetes who get ingrown toenails on a regular basis should definitely discuss this with their doctor. Even small injuries can cause big problems. That’s why it is important to practice regular nail care and to be especially cautious. As people with diabetes often have less feeling in their feet, they should seek professional help on a regular basis.
How do you recognize an ingrown toenail?
“Fortunately” ingrown toenails are hard to ignore if another disease such as diabetes does not numb feeling in your foot. Ingrown toenails are characterized by the following traits:
- Pain in the nail bed
- The toe is red and swollen
- When the area is infected, pus and sometimes blood comes out
If you are experiencing these symptoms and you have an ingrown toenail, fortunately there are a few things that you can do provided it has not reached an advanced stage.
Treatment for ingrown toenails
Using this method, you can treat ingrown toenails yourself. Be careful and be sure to contact a doctor when in doubt.
1. Soak your feet
Foot baths are an important component of the treatment. They make your skin smooth and soft. If you soak your feet in a foot bath on a regular basis, this can have a preventative effect. Having a foot bath two to four times a week for 20 minutes is the most effective way to keep your feet healthy. Use warm or hot water.
If you use Epsom salts, the skin gets softened even more and it becomes easier to adjust the nail. Once your feet are nice and soft, they are ready for this method.
2. Use a cotton ball
Take a small piece of cotton and roll it between your fingers until you have a thin roll. Now place the cotton carefully between the nail and the skin.
If it gets too painful, stop and go see a doctor. Normally you should feel less pressure since the nail does not press into the skin anymore. Leave the cotton between the skin and nail so that it can grow out by itself. During your next foot bath, you replace the cotton.
3. More helpful remedies to alleviate the pain
There are also some remedies that contribute to healing and alleviation while your foot heals. These include:
Dunk a cotton swab into some apple vinegar and rub it into the affected area. You should do this several times a day. The apple vinegar nourishes the skin and helps prevent infections.
A small amount of eucalyptus oil can offer pain relief and help prevent infections.
A slice of lemon
Cut a thin slice of lemon and rub it gently over the affected area. The lemon is especially good if the toe is already infected. Then you should wrap it around your toe with bandage and leave it on overnight. The acid in the lemon helps fight the infection.
Generally speaking, you should go easy on your feet during this time. It’s best to walk barefoot, wear open shoes and make sure that you don’t stub your toe anywhere. Even after the recovery period, you should wear comfortable shoes and always cut your nails straight. They will definitely thank you for it.
You should, however, always see a doctor if problems persist or worsen. But most ingrown toenails can be treated well with this method. Now you’ll have happy feet in the future!