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How to Treat an Ingrown Toenail

A toenail becomes ingrown when the nail curves downward into the skin as it grows. Most of the time, the nail is slowly growing so you don’t notice anything until you feel irritation, pain, swelling, or redness, but once the pain starts, it usually doesn’t subside until you do something about it. For mildly ingrown toenails, here are a few things that you can do at home:

  1. Soak – Use a bucket or your tub at home to soak your feet for at least 15 minutes about 3-4 times a day. This should help reduce the inflammation and swelling. Some say that adding epsom salt or soap helps, but it is not a necessity.
  2. Clean – Keep your feet as clean as possible (especially to prevent infection.) Wash your feet with soap and water and try to make sure your feet stay dry.
  3. Floss/Cotton – Place a piece of floss or cotton under the edge of your ingrown nail to try and slightly elevate it away from the skin. You will need to change the floss or cotton at least twice a day (or more if your feet get dirty often.) If you can only get a small piece in, try pushing a little bit further each time you change floss/cotton pieces until the nail is successfully growing away from your skin.
  4. Antibiotic Cream – Put antibiotic cream on your affected nail to prevent infection from occurring. If you already seem to have an infection, see your podiatrist immediately before it gets any worse.

Also remember, with an ingrown toenail, comfortable shoes are your best friend. A roomy pair of shoes is a must because any squeezing or uncomfortable pressure on your toes will only cause your ingrown toenail to hurt more and get worse. Tight and cramped shoes also lead to more fungal infections, which can be terrible for your ingrown toenail.

If your ingrown toenail seems to be getting worse or you see that it is infected, make sure to see a podiatrist. Fixing ingrown toenails at home can be painful and messy. A professional can quickly fix the problem while using a local anesthetic. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has been treating patients in the Centreville, VA area for over seventeen years. If you have any foot or ankle ailments contact us at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.

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