Home remedies for ingrown nails

  Photo by robertprzybysz/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by robertprzybysz/iStock / Getty Images

I have to admit, I am a huge fan of home remedies because I don't always have the luxury of seeing a professional and mostly because I don't want to. (I'm human too!) I know many of you feel the same, which is why I wanted to share with you some insight on ingrown nails, things you can do at home and when you should definitely see a specialist. 

It is better to prevent than to cure. Prevent ingrown nails by cutting the nail straight and rounding the sharp corners with a nail file.

A few patients have told me they read somewhere that creating a "V" notch would help. I'll save you the trouble and tell you it does not. Straight is great.

Also, too much digging into the corners will cause the skin to thicken and introduce bacteria so you may not want to do that. 

Poorly fitted shoes with narrow toe boxes can add pressure on the nail. Choose wider shoes or sandals if irritation is occurring. 

If you are developing an ingrown nail, simple things that can be done at home include:
1. Epsom salt soaks - this will relieve the inflammation. Take a basin of warm water, add 1/2 c Epsom salts, soak for 10-15 minutes. This will soften the nail and you can use a sharp ended filer to gingerly lift the nail corner.
2. Topical ointments - such as antibiotic ointment will also help soften the nail

Too often I see antibiotics prescribed erroneously. An ingrown nail that presses into the skin, maybe even cutting it, is best treated by removing the irritation. You'll want a professional to do this for you to avoid worsening infections. I've removed a lot of ingrown nails without prescribing any antibiotics because the source has been removed, saving you the inconvenience of antibiotic side effects, possible resistance and mostly saving you time from pain. Sometimes antibiotics are needed, most times they are not. Let a professional help you with that.

If you have chronic ingrown nails and want it to be removed permanently, podiatrists can help with that. I will follow up on next week's blog on what you can expect during a nail avulsion/matrixectomy procedure. 

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