An ingrown toenail is when the corner of a toenail grows into the skin around it. It causes tenderness, redness, and swelling of skin around the corner of the toenail on one of your big toes. Ingrown toenails are usually caused by tight shoes (for example, cowboy boots) or improper cutting of the toenails. They take several weeks to heal.
Soak your foot twice a day in warm water and antibacterial soap for 20 minutes. While the foot is soaking, massage the swollen part of the cuticle outward away from the nail.
If your cuticle is just red and irritated, an antibiotic ointment is probably not needed. But if the cuticle becomes swollen or oozes secretions, apply an antibiotic ointment (no prescription needed) to the swollen part of the toe after soaking.
The pain is usually caused by the corner of the toenail rubbing against the raw cuticle. Therefore, your healthcare provider will cut this corner off so that the irritated tissue can heal more easily. Your healthcare provider needs to do this only once. The main purpose of treatment is to help the nail grow over the nail cuticle rather than get stuck in it. Therefore, during soaks try to bend the corners of the nail upward. Try to slip a piece of dental floss under the corner of the nail and raise it upward. Then keep it elevated with a wedge of cotton.
Wear sandals or go barefoot as much as possible to prevent pressure on the toenail until it heals.
When you must wear closed shoes, protect the ingrown toenail as follows: If the inner edge is involved, tape a foam pad or cotton ball between the lower part of the first and second toes to keep the upper toes from touching. If the outer edge is involved, tape a foam pad or cotton ball to the outside of the ball of the lower toe to keep the toenail from touching the side of the shoe.
Make sure that your shoes are not too narrow. Give away any pointed or tight shoes. After the cuticle is healed, cut the toenails straight across, leaving the corners visible. Don't cut the nails too short. Cut the nail weekly to prevent pressure on the end of the nail, which can push the corners into the skin. Also, after every shower or bath, lift up the corners of the nail.
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