Anyone who’s experienced an ingrown toenail knows that it’s a painful condition. For those who haven’t; an ingrown toenail is when the nail grows into the flesh instead of over it, says WebMD. It usually occurs with the big toe and people who have thick or curved nails are the most susceptible to it. In most cases, an ingrown toenail requires surgery. But there is a way to treat it so you can attempt to remove it without surgery.
According to Jane Andersen, DPM, a podiatrist at Chapel Hill Foot and Ankle Associates in North Carolina, ingrown toenails are relatively easy to fix. But she does mention that there are two exceptions: If you have diabetes or a vascular disease, you need to see your doctor immediately. Aside from that, these are the following steps you can take to remove an ingrown toenail, according to Anderson.
Soak Your Feet: Anderson says to fill up a large tub or bowl with warm water and add one teaspoon of Epsom salts for every quart of water. She says that you will need to soak your feet in there for 20 minutes, twice a day. By doing this, it will help draw out any fluid that could be hidden under the nail. Also, she says that the Epsom salts are very soothing if the toenail has become infected.
Stick Something Underneath the Nail: You’ve probably been told that you should never stick anything under the nail if you have an ingrown toenail. But Anderson says that you can take a small piece of cotton, ball it up so it’s firm, and stick it underneath the part of the nail that is growing into the skin. The reason why you do this is that you want to try and lift the nail so it can grow over the skin, Anderson added.
Apply Ointment: Once the cotton has been firmly placed underneath the ingrown toenail, you’ll want to apply ointment. The ointment can prevent/treat an infection. Then put a bandage over it and let the healing begin, says Anderson. You can use over-the-counter antibiotic ointments like Neosporin, Polysporin, and Bactroban.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails: The easiest way to get rid of an ingrown toenail is to prevent it from happening in the first place, says Georgeanne Botek, DPM. Botek suggests that people start by avoiding cutting their toenails too short and cutting them unevenly at the corners. The corners are where most ingrown toenails occur, Botek added. Botek also adds that you should be wearing comfortable socks and shoes. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your socks and your shoes.
The last prevention tip that Botek gives is to avoid trauma to the toe area. If you are an active individual who runs or plays sports, Botek suggests that you try going barefoot for an hour after your exercise.