Ingrown toenails are a very common toe problem. They are frequently caused by ill-fitting, pinching shoes and toenails that are not cut straight across or are torn off instead of clipped. You can either treat the toenails at home yourself or see a podiatrist like Greenberg Paul. If the ingrown nail is quite painful and needs to be treated sooner than your podiatrist can see you, you can do this at home. However, you should be warned that it takes a strong stomach to treat the ingrown yourself. Here are the steps you must take.
Soak the Toe in Epsom Salts
When it says to soak the toe, it really means the whole foot as it is impossible just to soak a toe. You will need to dissolve an appropriate amount of Epsom salt in very warm water. In fact, the water should be as hot as you can tolerate it. Not only does this help to fully dissolve the Epsom salt, but it will allow you to perform the next step a lot easier.
Pull the Flesh Around the Ingrown Nail Back
When your toes are quite "pruny" from the soak, and the water is still tepid, remove your foot. Use a dry towel and your fingers to pull back the flesh from around the ingrown nail. This is going to hurt, but if you do not do it, you will not get relief. If you cannot pull back the flesh far enough, use the sterilized end of tweezers, or the prying end of the pointed slide-out part of toenail clippers. (You know that little piece of metal with the hooked end that slides out and away from the middle of toenail clippers.)
Keep prying the flesh back until one of two things happens:
- The toe begins to bleed, and you can see purple discoloration around and under the side of the nail bed.
- A slight pop occurs and your toe begins to leak a yellow or green pus.
Keep the flesh pulled back for pus to drain. Also, keep the flesh pulled back until you can clip a little of the side of the nail away.
Clip the Discolored Nail
The discolored part of the ingrown nail is the part that is ingrown. Your toe is trying to absorb the nail, but it cannot. Keeping the flesh pulled back, take other clippers that look like tiny pliers and clip away the bits of the discolored nail. This will alleviate the pain and pressure of the ingrown nail. The toe may bleed some more or release more pus if you have done this correctly. Wipe the toe as clean as you can, and reinsert the foot in the Epsom salt bath. The Epsom salt will relieve inflammation and purify the wound. Wear loose-fitting shoes for at least a couple of weeks to help the toe heal.