An ingrowing toenail can be truly uncomfortable and cause a range of complications. If you leave an ingrown toenail too long, you may even have to have surgery to remove the toenail and correct the growth path. Professional advice and treatment should be sought ASAP as the toenail could become infected, but there are several steps you can take to reduce any pain, and also reduce the chance of infection. The below details how you can deal with an ingrown toenail:
1. Soak your foot daily in warm salt water
First and foremost, you should bathe your foot in a solution of warm salt water for 15 minutes each time at least twice a day. This will greatly help reduce the chance of infection, and it can also help reduce swelling and relieve any pain you are experiencing.
2. During all other times, keep your foot dry
Whenever your foot is not being bathed, you should ensure that it is completely dry – dry your foot and toe gently to avoid pain, but ensure that no water or moisture remains. If your toe is damp then this can encourage infection and can make the ingrown toenail worse.
3. Separate the skin from the toenail and insert padding
To alleviate pain, and also to prevent the toenail from digging into your skin further you should separate your skin from the toenail itself. Use a small nail file or other pedicure device and gently pull the skin away. Once you have pulled the skin away, you should place small pieces of clean cotton between the toenail and skin – this will keep the two separated and help prevent infection. Consider dabbing the cotton in an antiseptic cream or cleanser.
4. Cover your toe with a bandage
Once you have separated the toenail from your skin and padded with cotton, you can then cover your whole toe with a soft bandage. Do not wrap the bandage tightly as you need to give it room to breathe but do cover the toe entirely. This can provide extra padding to your toe and also help prevent any knocks or unnecessary pain.
5. Wear comfortable and wide-fitting shoes
Any pressure placed on your toe can be painful, and it can cause the ingrown toenail to dig further into your skin. To reduce the pressure placed on your toes, consider wearing wide-fitting shoes that sit lightly on your feet. Alternatively, sandals or flip-flops may be preferable as your toes are then not covered in any way at all.
Aside from the above, ensure that you check your toenail regularly for signs of infection and try to minimize the amount of walking you do. If the toenail does become infected, or the problem persists, then you should look at visiting a podiatrist who can fix the problem and even perform minor surgery to remove the ingrown portion of the nail. We hope you have found this advice useful – an ingrown toenail is manageable so don’t suffer in silence or leave it until it’s too late!