Have you ever had an infected ingrown toenail? It’s painful and unfortunately, it’s not uncommon. If you’ve never experienced it before, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. Ingrown toenails affect around 10% of the population and are more common than you’d think.
Here are our top 10 remedies you might find helpful.
1. Soak the affected toe in warm water and Epsom salt
- Soak the affected toe in warm water and Epsom salt.
- Pour two cups of Epsom salt into a tub of warm water, and soak your infected nail for 20 minutes.
- Repeat this process twice a day until the infection goes away or you see improvement in symptoms like swelling or redness around the nail bed (the part where your toenail meets your skin).
- If you have diabetes or poor circulation, speak with your doctor before soaking in Epsom salts because they can increase blood sugar levels and cause problems with circulation if used improperly
2. Apply a medicated ointment
If you’d like to use a topical antibiotic ointment, make sure you check with your doctor first. There are many different types of ointments, but they all have the same purpose: to kill bacteria and stop inflammation. Some common examples include Polysporin and Neosporin.
Apply the ointment as directed on your package label. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after applying the ointment to your toe to prevent spreading germs. Do not use ointment on an open wound or cracked skin; this could increase irritation for you and potentially lead to further infection for the toe that is infected.
3. Wear a bandage and leave it uncovered at night
- If you’re wearing a bandage, make sure that it is not covering your nail. If it gets wet, remove the bandage and dry out the toe.
- Wrap gauze around your nail and tape it in place with medical tape.
- Don’t use a bandage that is too tight or leaves too much of a gap between it and the toe—this can cause more damage than good by creating an environment where bacteria can live more easily.
- You should also be careful to change this dressing as little as possible; if you want to keep on top of removing any excess fluid from underneath the dressing, try using some cornstarch or petroleum jelly instead of changing out the entire dressing every time you apply additional ointment or antiseptic salve
4. Remove the splinter of the nail
It is important that you first soak the toe in warm water and Epsom salt. This will soften the skin around your nail, making it easier to remove any splinter of the nail. Next, use a nail clipper carefully to remove the splinter of the nail. If you’re not sure whether or not you can do this yourself, see a podiatrist for assistance.
If you cannot remove the splinter of the nail yourself, see a podiatrist immediately!
5. Practice good foot hygiene
Your best defense against an infected ingrown toenail is good foot hygiene. Your feet can get dirty from the ground, which can lead to bacteria getting into your nail bed and causing infection. Washing your feet regularly with warm water and a mild soap is the best way to remove dirt and germs that can cause infection.
- Wash between the toes, especially after you have been in public areas such as gyms or pools, where there are a lot of germs on the floor.
- If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease (PVD), you are at higher risk for infections because these conditions lower blood flow to your extremities. Make sure that you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations regarding foot care so that you keep yourself healthy!
6. Wear loose shoes to allow air to circulate around your toes
Loose-fitting shoes are the best option for an infected ingrown toenail. Loose-fitting shoes allow air to circulate around your toes, which can help prevent infection in the first place. If you wear tight-fitting shoes such as high heels or closed-toe sandals with a strap across the top, these types of footwear can cause your nail to be pushed into your skin, increasing pain and slowing healing time.
7. Avoid making contact with your bare toe
The first step in preventing infection is to avoid making contact with your bare toe. Simply put, if possible, don’t touch the affected area with your bare hands or feet. If you do happen to come into contact with it accidentally (such as when you’re walking around barefoot), wash your hands thoroughly afterward to remove any bacteria that may have been transferred from the affected area onto them.
8. Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). The dosage and frequency of use depend on the product and your age.
- Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Do not take for more than 10 days unless directed by a doctor.
9. Do not cut your nails too short or wear tight shoes, socks, or stockings
- Do not cut your nails too short or wear tight shoes, socks, or stockings.
- Don’t cut your nails in a curved shape.
- Avoid pulling your nail down into the skin (also called “going barefoot”).
10. Elevate your foot when you sit or lie down to help reduce swelling
Elevate your foot when you sit or lie down to help reduce swelling. With a pillow or by propping your foot up on a chair, elevate the infected toenail slightly above heart level. This will also help remove some of the pressure from an infected ingrown toenail.
You can also elevate your foot when you are lying down, as long as it is not painful for you to do so.
These home remedies can help ease the discomfort of an ingrown toenail until it grows out and the pain subsides.
In rare cases, if the pain is severe or you can’t remove the ingrown toenail yourself, your doctor may need to trim away some of its infected parts. If this doesn’t work and you develop an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
If you have a severely infected ingrown toenail, it’s important that you don’t attempt to treat it at home because this could lead to further infection and other complications.
Treatment for an infected ingrown toenail can be as simple as soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts. If your infection does not clear up after a few days of home treatment, see a doctor. There are medical procedures that can remove the infected portion of the nail permanently and help prevent future infections from happening again.