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Ingrown toenails can cause great pain, and the constant use of the toes during the day worsen the condition.
An ingrown toenail, or onychocryptosis, is a common toenail issue which can occur at any age. This painful condition can get infected if you do not take proper care. However, some studies suggest that there is a slightly increased male-to-female ratio, especially in the 14–25 age group.
This issue may be a result of various reasons, including trauma, improper nail cutting technique, anatomical factors such as thickening of the nail plate, a pincer-shaped toenail, a subungual exostosis tight-fitting footwear, pressure from abutting digits due to a hallux valgusor, lesser toe deformities, the presence or the use of isotretinoin in the treatment of severe acne.
The classification of ingrown toenails divides them into three groups: mild (stage 1), moderate (stage 2) and severe (stage 3). In the first group, the patient may experience nail-fold swelling, pain with pressure, erythema, and edema.
Moderate cases are manifested with drainage, increased swelling, infection, and ulceration of the nail fold. In the most complicated cases, the patient may experience a chronic inflammation, granulation, and marked nail-fold hypertrophy.
In all cases, it leads to redness, pain, swelling, and even infection, and is usually on the big toe. In almost all cases, it causes excruciate pain and may be easily infected if not treated on time.
This issue can be treated at home, but if it causes unbearable and continued pain, you should visit your doctor in order to find he easiest and fastest way to treat it and prevent further complications.
The following symptoms indicate that you have an ingrown toenail:
- Pain and tenderness in the toe along the side or both sides of the nail
- Swelling of your toe around the nail
- Redness around the toenail
- Infection of the tissue around your toenail
On the other hand, these are some of the prevailing causes of an ingrown toenail:
- Cutting toenails too short or not straight across
- Deformities of the toes
- Having abnormally curved toenails
- Subungual exostosis (outgrowth of bone from the toe tip)
- Use of isotretinoin in the treatment of severe acne
- shoes that crowd the toenails, like heels or too tight shoes
According to experts, wider nails fold and flatter ones raise the risk of ingrown toenails. Therefore, one study conducted on 46 people showed that there was no difference in the anatomic shape of toenails in patients who have or not have ingrown toenails.
The increased perspiration in adolescence leads to softened nails, which are prone to splitting, and thus cause nail spicules that can pierce the lateral skin.
These spicules may become a chronic issue in the elderly, due to reduced nail care, reduced mobility, and impaired vision. Moreover, nails thicken with age, so they are difficult to cut, and often become infected, painful and ingrown.
A toenail may become ingrown due to its natural thickness or shape.
In the case of diabetes or any other ailment which leads to poor blood flow in the feet, you should know that you are at increased risk of developing ingrown toenails. If not treated, the ingrown nail may cause an infection to the underlying bone and cause a severe bone infection.
Note that in the case of a difficult-to-heal open sore (foot ulcer), you should probably consider a surgery, in order to avoid decay and death of tissue (gangrene), which is a result of an interrupted blood flow in some body part.
Natural Remedies For Ingrown
Fortunately, there are some natural ways to solve this problem without visiting a doctor, and this article will present the most effective of them. In the case of the second or third stage, many resort to surgery, but it is not necessary.
Soak or Wash the Foot
In order to clean the area and get rid of bacteria, you should soak the foot in soapy, warm water 3-4 times a day. In order to enhance the effect, you can add Epsom salts in order to soften the skin and ease the drawing out the toenail from the skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar Wash
This is one of the most effective treatments for this problem. Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar to warm water and soak your feet in it. Moreover, you can apply this solution to the affected area. In this way, you will prevent bacterial infections, but it won’t fight an existing one.
Wash with Castile Soap
You should wash the foot with soap and water two times a day. For best effects, choose Castile soap as it contains pure and natural ingredients. Also, keep your feet clean and dry.
Dental Floss Under the Nail
If you place dental floss or cotton wisps under the affected toenail, you will shift it to grow in the proper direction. You should make an attempt to lift its corner that is digging into the skin.
Then, roll a small cotton piece or gauze between the fingers in order to make a wick or a small roll, and leave it between the skin and the nail.
In order to avoid a burning sensation, you should choose dental floss with no flavor. Then, use it to lift the nail long enough to make it grow out and away from the skin. Even though this may cause a discomfort, it is an effective way to solve the problem.
You can also try to push the roll father every time you soak your foot, on a daily basis. Moreover, replace the roll daily, and be patient to allow the nail to grow out, as it will need a couple of weeks. Sometimes, you may need to cut the nail a bit in order to push it underneath.
Essential Oils to soothe Inflammation and Pain
Mix some carrier oil, like coconut oil, with clove, rosemary, lavender, melaleuca, (tea tree oil), cypress, to prepare your own essential oil. Apply it on the affected area, and you will naturally treat it, and create a natural environment for the healing process.
As we stated, sometimes you will need to cut the ingrown toenail, which may be a difficult procedure. Here is how to do it carefully and easily:
- Soak the foot in some warm water with Epsom salts or castile soap for 20 minutes. This will soften the toenail and treat the swelling.
- Then, carefully push the swollen skin back with clean hands. Do not push it more than the swelling allows.
- Next, cut the nail straight across, starting from the edges. Cut the nail from the sides, not from the middle.
- Then, place a piece of cotton between the skin and the nail, in order to prevent it from coming back, and thus give it another direction to grow.
- Now you should apply the recipe below on the affected place and secure it with a bandage.
- You should avoid socks and shoes if possible for some time to help the healing, and wear flip-flops or shoes which do not allow dirt to enter it.
- Change the cotton on a daily basis, or even twice a day, in order to prevent infections.
The following homemade ointment can help you treat ingrown toenails, and soothe the pain and infection. Apply it directly on the affected area, and you will accelerate the healing process.
- 2 ounces coconut oil
- 5 drops lavender oil
- 2 ounces aloe Vera gel
- 1 drop oregano oil
- 5 drops tea tree oil
- 2 drops peppermint oil
- 5 drops eucalyptus oil
Preparation and use:
- Mix all ingredients in a small glass jar, and close it tightly. Stir it well with a small spoon.
- Apply it on a dry and clean toenail, and allow it to air-dry. Wear flip-flops.
- You can also bandage it and put on some loose-fitting shoes.
- Repeat this procedure 2-3 times during the day. Afterward, wash the hands and avoid their contact with the eyes. Be extra careful when using oregano oil, as it is a natural antibiotic, but it can cause a burning sensation.
Avoid High Heels and Tight Shoes
These kinds of shoes must be avoided in the case of ingrown toenails, as they apply additional pressure to the affected area, and thus, obstruct the healing process. It is beneficial to use sandals, as they allow the nail to breathe freely and heal.