Ingrown Toenail Remedies

Tips on Ingrown Toenail Remedies

Sharp, stabbing pains and a burning sensation in the toe is a good indication that you are suffering from an ingrown toenail; remedies for relieving the pain and fixing the problem should be the first concern.  

Nails, whether fingernails or toenails, are composed of a substance called keratin; a protein that is also the basis of hair.  There are many theories as to why humans have nails, but basically they are needed for scratching and for assistance in picking up objects.  Though it is true that we do not pick up items using the toes, they still bear the same prehensile abilities.  The root of the nail is found under the skin and all nail growth emanates from this area.  Any abnormalities or injuries that occur to the matrix will eventually show up on the nail plate.  Heredity and the health of an individual are among the deciding factors as to how strong or quickly nails grow.  From time to time, however, something occurs to change the natural pattern of nail growth.  The tip of the nail on one side dips downwards and begins to press into the skin below.  This abnormality can occur from stubbing the toe on a hard object, dropping an object on the toe or even consistently wearing tight, constrictive shoes.  It could be sports related, especially for teenagers, occurring when an activity requires frequent running or kicking.  Often, it is the result of improperly trimming the toenails or not trimming them at all, allowing them to break off in an irregular fashion. This condition is the definition of an ingrown toenail. 

At first, there will be a mild discomfort felt when wearing either socks or shoes.  If not corrected, the toe will progress to become reddened and warm to the touch, with pain felt at any touch.  The nail may dig deeper, causing a cut in the skin.  This leaves the area vulnerable for bacteria to enter, causing an infection that includes pus and drainage.   When the majority of people spend a great deal of time on their feet, there are few things more painful than having an ingrown toenail.  Remedies can range from home tried and true treatments to medicinal alternatives, but if not treated properly, the condition will only worsen.  Especially for people with medical issues such as diabetes, improper care of the toes and feet could wreak havoc with the individual’s health even to the point of endangering their very life.

Treating an ingrown toenail will depend on the stage of the condition.  At any stage, if diabetes or some other medical condition exists, a doctor should always be consulted.  A warm foot soak can be very relieving for the beginning stage of the condition; massaging the sore side of the toe will help to reduce the inflammation.  Some old wives’ tales for treating ingrown toenails include cutting a “V” shape in the center of the nail, believing that the nail will naturally grow inward to attempt to fuse together.  This is simply not true; one doctor likens it to cutting a “V” in the top of a door which sticks.  No cutting should be attempted by the individual; if soaking and massaging does not relieve the condition, a doctor should be consulted.

If an infection exists, a course of antibiotics may be necessary.  Doctors may perform outpatient surgery that involves removing a section of the toenail, or in the most severe of cases, destroy the nail root to discontinue growth in that section of the nail bed.

As with all conditions, prevention should always be attempted.  Proper trimming, regular care of the toenails and wearing shoes that fit well will provide the best efforts to avoiding the creation of an ingrown toenail.