An ingrown toenail is a painful inconvenience. Slipping into a pair of shoes is uncomfortable, and walking can become an excruciating limp. While the condition is no cause for a grave health concern, it’s an irritating occurrence that requires your attention.
If left untreated, an ingrown toenail won’t go away by itself. The condition progresses causing further pain and exposure to a possible severe infection. Healthy toenails grow outwards and away from the base of the nailbed. An ingrown toenail describes a condition where the toenail grows into the side of the cuticle. Occasionally, in severe cases, the skin will fold over the nail.
Ingrown toenails differ in their severity. Some are easy to treat, while others may require a minor surgical procedure to remove the nail. The big toe is the most common victim of this dysfunctional nail growth. Skin tissue at the cuticle becomes red, sensitive, and inflamed, and you may experience weeping of pus.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Soak
ACV deserves a place in everyone’s pantry. This organic vinegar contains “The Mother,” a probiotic compound that’s rich in polyphenol antioxidants. ACV has potent anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. You can use the vinegar as a tonic or topical treatment for a wide variety of adverse health conditions.
ACV is the first choice for treatment of your ingrown toenail. The acidic nature of the vinegar cleans the nail bed and cuticle, preventing further infection. Before you order your ACV, make sure you select an organic, unfiltered, and unpasteurized product. Filtering and pasteurization remove the valuable enzymes that give the ACV its healing power.
Start your treatment by creating a foot soak formula. Add one-quarter of a cup of ACV to warm water in your foot tub. Soak your affected foot in the tub for 30-minutes. Repeat this treatment two to three times a day until the ingrown toenail heals.
In between your soaking sessions, dab ACV on a cotton ball and press it into the affected area. Wrap it with a bandage and let it sit for a few hours.
2. Epsom Salt Soak
Also known as magnesium sulfate, Epsom salts act as a drying agent that heals and soothes the skin. Dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salts into warm water in your foot tub. The solution softens the skin around the ingrown nail and provides an anti-inflammatory effect that makes it easier to draw it out.
The magnesium in the Epsom salts acts as an antiseptic, clearing any signs of infection. Soak your foot for 20 to 30-minutes, once a day for a week. This treatment protocol should be adequate to cure the condition within seven days. You may experience a slight stinging sensation as you place your toe into the water.
The stinging will subside after a few minutes as the magnesium goes to work and provides pain relief after that. Epsom salts heal the inflamed skin around your nail while drawing out the pus. Ensure you dry your feet properly after the soak. Leftover magnesium will dry your skin out.
3. Turmeric Treatment
Turmeric is a yellow spice that has use in cooking, as well as traditional medicine. The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric is an excellent natural remedy for relieving the swelling and pain associated with an ingrown toenail.
For a traditional, natural treatment, mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a few drops of mustard oil. Blend the mixture until you achieve a fine paste with the consistency of peanut butter. Apply the concoction to your ingrown toenail, cover it with cotton and wrap it with a bandage. Repeat this treatment two or three times a day. Ensure that you use clean swabs and bandages or plaster with every treatment. The swelling and infection will subside after three to four days.
Turmeric’s strong yellow coloring will get over everything and stain the skin on your toe. Purchase an antiseptic cream with curcumin if you want to try a more modern approach.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
This potent chemical is present in water treatment plants where engineers use it to treat the drinking water supply. Hydrogen peroxide eliminates microbial growth and sterilizes the water, making it suitable to drink. The compound features disinfectant properties ideal for treating an ingrown toenail.
Hydrogen peroxide reacts quickly with water, disintegrating into hydrogen and water. This chemical is safe and effective for treating and healing an ingrown toenail. It’s readily available from your local pharmacy, and many people use it in a mild solution to bleach their hair.
The disinfectant properties relieve inflammation and pain while reducing the risk of infection. The application of hydrogen peroxide will soften your skin. After multiple treatments, it’s easy to extract and trim the ingrown toenail. Fill your foot tub with warm water and add half a cup of hydrogen peroxide. Soak your foot for 20 to 30-minutes, two or three times a day. You’ll notice an immediate improvement, and the condition will heal in less than a week.
5. White Flower Oil
This natural healing oil provides antiseptic properties and pain relief for an ingrown toenail. The name of the oil, “white flower,” suggests that the extract comes from a single plant. However, white flower oil is a combination of peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil.
The blend receives its name from its inventor; Gan Geock Eng, a Singapore merchant who chose to name it after his favorite flower in 1927. Almost 100-years later, the oil is still a trusted remedy for relieving the symptoms of muscular pain and congestion. The oil also goes by the name; “Pak Fah Yeow,” which translates to “white flower.”
To use the oil as a remedy for an ingrown toenail, soak a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. Whatever you do, don’t apply it directly to the ingrown toenail, as the pain may be excruciating. The oil will clear any bacteria from the surface of your skin.
6. Oregano Essential Oil
Wild oregano, Origanum vulgare, features antibiotic, antiseptic, and therapeutic effects. The oil kills bacteria, cleansing infections. It makes an excellent topical administration for all-year-round foot care. The oil kills off any fungus that’s lurking between your toes and toenails. It’s best not to apply essential oregano oil directly to the ingrown toenail without mixing it to a base oil first.
Add three drops of essential oregano oil to three drops of sesame seed oil and blend. Using a cotton earbud, press the oil into the ingrown toenail. You may experience a stinging sensation that subsides into a warm glow. Remove the cotton bud and cover it with a plaster.
Repeat the treatment twice a day for a week. You should notice a difference on the morning of the second day after starting treatment. Oregano oil also works as a soak. Add a few drops to warm water in your foot tub and soak for 20 to 30-minutes.
7. Dental Floss Removal
Dental floss is surprisingly effective at removing an ingrown toenail. If your condition is not very severe, try this strategy. Work a strand of dental floss between your fingers to create a wick. If it’s possible, and you can bear the pain, try to wedge it under the corner of the nail. The floss shifts the nail’s growth trajectory, pushing it up and away from the cuticle bed.
Use an unflavored, natural dental floss for this idea. A mint-flavored floss will create irritation in the skin and a burning sensation. The initial phase of wedging the floss under the nail is uncomfortable. However, the strategy is very effective at training the ingrown toenail to grow in the right direction.
It’s best to try this out after soaking your nail in ACV, hydrogen peroxide, or Epsom salts. Ensure that you change out the floss daily to avoid the nail growing over the floss.
8. The Ultimate Ingrown Toenail Serum
Taking a page out of Mr. Gan Geock Eng’s book, (the gentlemen who invented white flower oil,) you can create your own effective ingrown toenail serum. Combining the properties of essential oil extracts with other base oils, allows you to benefit from multiple varieties of polyphenol antioxidants. Try out this “ultimate ingrown toenail serum.”
1/2-oz extra-virgin coconut oil. (base carrier oil.)
1/2-oz aloe vera gel. (base carrier oil.)
3-drops lavender oil.
2-drops of eucalyptus oil.
1-drop of peppermint oil.
1-drop tea tree oil.
1-drop oregano oil.
Place all ingredients in a small lidded jar and mix using a teaspoon. Soak your foot using the ACV, Epsom salts, or hydrogen peroxide method.
Dry your foot off thoroughly and smear the ointment over the ingrown toenail. It’s best to let the lotion air-dry naturally. Bandage the toe if you must wear shoes or sandals. Repeat the treatment three to four times a day.
9. The Expert Method for Trimming Ingrown Toenail
It’s important to note that it may take a few weeks to grow out of the ingrown toenail. You’ll need to use the dental floss method and treatment with the “ultimate ingrown toenail serum.” Patience is your friend during this stage. Keep soaking and treating the toenail every day while replacing the floss as necessary.
During the treatment phase, you’ll need to trim the toenail every other day to ensure it grows in the right direction. Follow these instructions carefully to successfully cut away the nail without damaging the skin or cuticle.
Dry off your toe after your soak. Using clean fingers, gently pull back the skin and expose the ingrown toenail. Cut straight across the nail from the sides, not the center. Place the dental floss under the between the toenail and skin. If it’s too painful to wedge the dental floss under the nail bed, you may need to seek professional help to remove your ingrown toenail.
10. Seek Professional Help
In certain situations, it may be too painful to trim the toenail by yourself. In this case, you’ll need to visit a medical professional for a minor surgical procedure, to remove the ingrown toenail. The process is typically painless and requires a local anesthetic. The anesthetic numbs the affected area while the professional cuts out the section of an ingrown nail.
A Nail Wedge Resection (NWR,) provides permanent removal of the ingrown toenail. The procedure doesn’t remove the entire nail and takes a few minutes to complete on-site, in the medical professional’s practice. Some patients may be very reluctant to have the procedure, but the ingrown nail won’t go away by itself.
Aftercare is an essential part of the recovery process. Aftercare treatment ensures the nail bed does not become infected during the healing period. Stay committed to your daily soaking process, and use the “ultimate ingrown toenail serum.” Continue treatment every day until the inflammation subsides and the skin heals.