An ingrown toenail can be very painful and, if left untreated, could cause an infection that may lead to serious health problems. These natural methods to treat and prevent ingrown toenails should help ease your discomfort and prevent continued occurrences.
What Causes Ingrown Toenails?
They can be caused by improper or lack of toenail maintenance, wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes and being up and around on the feet often. However, some people, regardless of how well they care for their feet and even if they work a desk job, are prone to them.
Lemon Toe Pack
Cut a slice of lemon and place it against the affected toe, securing it with a breathable piece of gauze. Leave this on overnight. Then, very gently, using a wooden (not metal) orange stick designed for nails, pry at the embedded nail until it releases. Roll up a piece of cotton or gauze and place it in between the nail and skin and change everyday until it is healed.
Epsom Salt Foot Soak
Epsom salt acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and will help draw out the embedded toenail so it can grow out on its own. Fill a basin up with warm water and add ¼ cup of Epsom salt. Soak feet for 15-20 minutes. Note:Those allergic to sulfur should not use Epsom salt.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a powerful natural antifungal and antibacterial and may help prevent toe infection. When choosing tea tree oil, be sure to pick a brand that is best suited for topical application, such as one that has been mixed with healing vitamin E. Gently rub tea tree oil on clean, affected toe and cover with a white sock as the dye in colored socks can sometimes irritate inflamed skin.
Homeopathic calendula ointment can be used on the affected toe to ease pain and inflammation. Pick up a bottle of this healthful ointment at your local health food store or online and apply to the affected area as directed.
How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails
The best way to treat ingrown toenails is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are a few helpful, natural ways to prevent them:
Perform Proper Toenail Maintenance
Cut toenails straight across and do not cut them too short. It is important to keep toenails flush with the tip of the toe. Use a wooden file on sharp toenail edges to tame them and prevent them from growing back into the skin. Avoid using metallic instruments to remove dead skin during pedicures. Pumice stones are fine.
After your pedicure, apply a generous amount of natural, organic lotion. This will not only leave your feet smooth but will soften your toenails and make them easier to maintain.
Wear the Right Shoes
Wear properly fitting shoes with plenty of toe room. Ladies, if you prefer high heels, go no higher than 1 inch to prevent ingrown toenails.
Let Your Feet Breathe
Wear sandals when weather and terrain permit. This will also help prevent athlete’s foot.
Ingrown toenails can be irritating, painful and sometimes debilitating. These natural methods should eliminate your need to go under the knife and prevent further occurrences.
Note: If pain is severe and accompanied by swelling and/or drainage, it is advisable to seek medical attention rather than attempting to treat the ingrown toenail yourself. Also, diabetics and those who have any other condition in which they have limited sensation in their feet should not cut their toenails or use these practices unless given permission by a doctor.