How to treat an ingrown toenail

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We tend only to notice our feet when something goes wrong – but like with the rest of our bodies, the health of our feet depends on how we care for them.  

With the proper daily care, one can avoid common foot conditions like fungal infections, bunions, athlete’s foot or even gout.

Another very common condition affecting our feet is ingrown toenails. According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, ingrown toenails are prevalent among adolescents, young adults and diabetics. 

An ingrown toenail translates to constant discomfort, irritation or inflammation in your toe and can negatively impact your daily life. 

Contributing factors to ingrown toenails:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Cutting nails incorrectly (rounded edges instead of straight)
  • Uncommonly carved toenails
  • Nail injury
  • Diabetes, which can compromise blood flow to the feet

"Ingrown" means that your nail starts digging its way into the flesh next to it, causing redness, swelling and inflammation.  

The big toe is commonly affected by an ingrown nail. It is, however, something that can most often be treated at home.  

Treating an ingrown toenail

  • Regularly soak your feet in hot water.
  • Use Epsom salt and apple cider vinegar to help reduce swelling and to soften the skin.
  • Place cotton wedges underneath the nail.
  • Hydrogen peroxide helps to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Trim nails correctly and refrain from rounding the edges.
  • If the nail is infected, seek medical assistance.

If an ingrown nail persists, there are surgeries that can help solve the problem. Surgeons give patients two options, either partial or total nail avulsion, which involves either partial or total removal of the nail. Partial nail avulsion is the more common option.

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