An ingrown toenail can be a big pain. And treating it at home seems like the most immediate response. While there are ingrown toenail home treatments that can be explored, getting the most effective treatment quickly is the best choice to end the pain, and to avoid worsening of the ingrown toenail.
Home treatment for an ingrown toenail should only be attempted at the initial, or mild, stage of an ingrown toenail. The mild stage is in effect at the first sign of an ingrown toenail and is signaled by swelling, redness, fluid, or pain with pressure around the toe.
Ingrown toenail home treatments to apply at the first sign of symptoms:
- Stop wearing tight, pointed-toe, or heeled shoes. These shoes create pressure on the area, causing it to worsen the ingrown toenail. Open-toed shoes are best.
- Clean and soak the foot several times a day. Warm water with soap or with apple cider vinegar can be used to clean and soak the foot. Epsom salt is also a great addition to a soak to help soften the area between the toe and the nail, reducing pressure.
- Keep the toes and foot dry. Moisture will increase the level of bacteria present, which can lead to infection.
- Apply essential oils to the area. Oils such as eucalyptus and tea tree have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Just a few drops of these essential oils can be added to a cotton ball, along with a carrier oil, and applied directly to the ingrown toenail area.
Again, time is crucial. Treatment needs to be applied (and work) quickly so that your ingrown toenail does not reach the moderate or severe stage, where medical treatment could be necessary. At-home treatments can work for some, but are not always effective or suitable for everyone.
When to see a podiatrist immediately for an ingrown toenail (recommended):
- You’ve tried at-home treatments in the past without success. A podiatrist can treat your case immediately and effectively, using the best method for you.
- You want to take immediate steps that you know will be effective (recommended). Seeing a podiatrist early will lead to a noninvasive treatment plan. Don’t wait until your ingrown toenail has worsened before seeing a podiatrist.
- You try at-home treatments for your ingrown toenail and don’t see improvement within the first 48 hours. Home treatments are not always effective, so if you try these and don’t get pain, swelling, and redness relief, you’ll need to see a podiatrist to receive effective treatments before the issue worsens.
- Your ingrown toenail has already reached the moderate or severe stage. The initial, mild stage of an ingrown toenail is an uncomfortable pain and pressure with slight redness or swelling. If you’ve had this for several days and are noticing these symptoms getting worse—more pain, more redness or swelling, or any drainage—this means that your ingrown toenail has moved past the mild stage. See a podiatrist for medical attention.
- You have recurring ingrown toenails. Treatment is available to put an end to recurring pain and pressure if you continue to get ingrown toenails. A podiatrist can go over these treatments.
A podiatrist can accurately evaluate your ingrown toenail to determine the best treatment. At-home podiatry visits are available too!