- Soak your feet in warm water 4 times a day to relieve tenderness and swelling.
- After soaking or washing, keep your feet dry.
- Apply antibiotic ointment or steroid cream for a few days.
- Place cotton under the toenail, as this can help the nail grow above the edge of the skin.
- Place a piece of dental floss under the nail and glue it to the nail edges on both sides of the nail to keep it steady.
- Avoid wearing high heels or tight shoes and consider wearing sandals until the condition goes away.
- Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen if you are experiencing toe pain.
What are medical treatment options for ingrown toenails?
If you do not find relief with home remedies, consult a doctor. Conservative treatments that may help an ingrown toenail include:
- Toe braces: Available at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, toe braces are made of thin, adhesive, composite material and can be glued to the top of your affected toe. Toe braces protect your skin from the sharp ingrown nail and help lift the nail edges.
- Splints: Your doctor may attach a splint to the ingrown nail edge.
- Artificial nail: A sculptured artificial nail can be placed if there is no granulation tissue.
If you observe severe pain, inflammation, and pus discharge from your ingrown toenail, your doctor may recommend surgical removal because it may be infected. Surgery removes a portion of the nail, underlying nail bed, and some adjacent soft tissue, and it can also prevent the nail edge from growing inward and poking the flesh.
When to seek medical help for an ingrown toenail
If you notice signs of infection, seek medical help. You should also consult a doctor if you have the following conditions:
- Your last tetanus shot was 5 years ago
- There is no improvement in the condition after 3 days of home care
- You have underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, poor circulation, AIDS, cancer with ongoing chemotherapy sessions, poor wound healing, or an increased risk of infection
If you have diabetes or an increased risk of infection, you should contact the emergency department even if you do not have an infection.
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Cole GW. Ingrown Toenails (Onychocryptosis, Unguis Incarnatus). eMedicineHealth. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/ingrown_toenails/article_em.htm#what_are_ingrown_toenail_home_remedies
Heidelbaugh JJ, Lee H. Management of the ingrown toenail. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Feb 15;79(4):303-8. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0215/p303.html
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