Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful and they occur when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end of or on the side of the toe. Pain and inflammation will occur. However, while they are painful, there are things that you can do to help the condition and relieve the pain.
Ingrown toenails are common in adults but are found much less in children and infants. Any toenail can become ingrown but it is most common in the big toe. Ingrown toenails do need to be treated for, if they are left alone, they can lead to infection or even an abscess that requires surgical treatment.
The best method of treating ingrown toenails is through prevention. The best way to do this is through careful clipping of the toenails. Toenails should be clipped straight across, being sure to keep the edge of the nail longer than the edge of the skin. This will stop the corners of the nail from digging into the skin. Do not cut the nail in a rounded or curved shape or cut them too short. Before you cut your toenails, it is a good idea to soak your foot in warm water to soften the nail. This will make it easier to cut. While the nail itself should be cut straight across, file and buff the corners of the nail to ensure that there are no sharp edges. Ensure that the shoes you are wearing fit properly, and that the foot is kept clean and dry. Properly fitting shoes may place pressure on your toes or pinch them, causing the nails to grow into the surrounding tissue. If you work in an area where you are likely to injure your toes, wear protective footwear such as steel-toed boots.
Most ingrown toenails can be treated at home, especially if they are in their early stages. The first thing to do is soak your feet. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes, three times a day, using warm, salted water, or warm, soapy water. The soaking will reduce the swelling and relieve tenderness. Next, put some cotton under the ingrown edge of the nail after each soaking. This will help the nail to eventually grow above the edge of the skin. Apply a topical natural antibiotic ointment and bandage the area. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting shoes until the toe feels better.