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Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Kiersten James

Before heading to the doctor’s office, try these easy home remedies for ingrown toenails to ease pain and discomfort.

Ingrown toe nails are literally a pain. Thankfully, this common ailment can often be taken care of at home in both kids and adults using simple, traditional home remedies.

Toe nails are wonderful for protecting delicate toes against stubs and other injuries. If not well cared for, however, they can cause us a bit of grief.

How Do Ingrown Toe Nails Happen?

Nails that aren’t trimmed often enough or are trimmed with improper technique are the most common causes of ingrown toe nails. Big toes are the ones usually affected but it can happen to the other toes, too.

A toenail becomes “ingrown” when the edges of the nail curve and are pushed back into the skin. The area where the skin is punctured by the nail can become infected if its not corrected and cared for in a timely manner.

Home Remedies for Ingrown Toe Nails

Soak in Epsom Salt

Take 1 tablespoon of epsom salt and add it to a bowl of room temperature water. Soak your foot in the solution for 20 minutes twice a day. This is effective for mild cases of ingrown nails and helps to reduce pain and inflammation.

Soak in Apple Cider Vinegar

For something stronger, add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) to a bowl of room temperature water. Soak a cotton cloth in the vinegar solution and wrap your toe in the cloth for 15 minutes. Repeat this 5 to 6 times a day when you’re sitting for a meal, working at your desk, or relaxing.

Apple cider vinegar is a time-tested home remedy for ingrown toenails due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Use the Wet Bandage Technique

Put a regular bandage (like a Band-Aid or gauze) over the ingrown toe nail. Soak the bandage with the saline solution above. Add more saline every now and then throughout the day to keep the bandage wet. This will soften the skin and ingrown nail preventing the nail from growing further into the skin Change the bandage daily until the nail is long enough to be trimmed.

The Cotton Lift

Push a small piece of cotton taken off of the end of a Q-tip under the ingrown side of the toe nail to lift it away from the surrounding skin. In some cases, this successfully changes the direction and angle of the toenail. This stops the nail from growing further into the skin.

File the Nail

Take a regular emery board used to file nails and file the top of the nail that is already ingrown. This will make the nail thinner and cause the edges of the toe nail to lift. Like the cotton lift, this changes the direction and angle of the nail which stops it from growing further into the skin.

Choose Smart Footwear

Poorly fitting shoes is another common cause of ingrown toenails. For prevention, don’t wear shoes that are too narrow or small which tend to jam the toes inward. If you are treating an ingrown nail, wearing an open toe shoe or sandal will reduce local pressure and pain.

How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

In almost all cases, ingrown toe nails can be prevented with proper nail clipping technique. Follow the 4 tips listed below to keep your toenails happy and healthy.

4 tips to keep your toenails healthy:

  1. Make sure your nail clipper is sharp. Nail clippers should be able to cut a clean, straight line without splitting the nail into little shards.
  2. Squeeze the nail clipper to perform a cut, don’t pull the end of the nail off. This is another indication that your clipper has dulled and may need to be replaced.
  3. Don’t cut too much off. Your toenail should always have a little bit of white edging left after clipping.
  4. Cut straight across the nail but don’t cut off the sharp edges. After clipping, use a nail file or emery board to smooth and buff the edges.

When to See the Doctor

Operating on yourself in the bathroom can lead to a whole host of problems that we don’t want. Making things worse is never the desired outcome of trying to handle it at home. Don’t be a toilet surgeon.

If your ingrown toenail is very red, swollen, or oozing any type of drainage, make an appointment to see your doctor or head to the local walk-in clinic for a professional evaluation.

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The statements made on are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your personal physician or healthcare specialist regarding any potential changes to your lifestyle or healthcare regimen.

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