An ingrown toenail occurs when a corner of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, often causing redness, swelling, and pain. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper trimming, heredity, or physical trauma. Ingrown toenail treatments may involve home remedies such as soaking the affected foot in warm water and the use of over-the-counter medications; treatment by a doctor may be necessary in some cases.
In many situations, treatments can be successfully performed at home. In the beginning stages, the only treatments that may be needed are careful hygiene measures. The affected foot can be soaked in warm water several times per day. It is not necessary to add soap or salt to the water. The foot should be washed gently with soap and water twice per day and patted dry.
Ingrown toenail treatments can be uncomfortable or even painful. For those who can handle self-inflicted pain, it often helps to elevate the toenail. The corner of the nail that has been digging into the skin needs to be slightly elevated by placing a small, rolled-up piece of gauze underneath the toenail. Each time the foot is soaked, this gauze should be pushed back a little further. After a week or two, the toenail should have grown out enough so that it no longer digs into the skin.
If a person decides to attempt ingrown toenail treatments at home, over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, may help with the discomfort as well as the inflammation caused by the ingrown toenail. If there has been no progress after three days of home treatment or if fluids start to ooze from the toe, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation. Many people prefer that treatments be administered by a doctor, even if there are no complications.
Oral or topical antibiotics may become necessary ingrown toenail treatments if there is an infection present. The doctor may choose to use a splint, which may be in the form of a plastic tube or strip. In some cases, the doctor may decide to cut or file the nail in such a way that the nail changes shape as it grows. If the condition is severe enough, a relatively simple surgical procedure may be performed to remove the area of skin around the nail that has become inflamed. Any questions or concerns about ingrown toenail treatments should be discussed with a doctor.