Ingrown toenails are the most common affliction podiatrists treat. Almost everyone will have an ingrown toenail at some point in his life, but some unlucky individuals are plagued with ingrown toenails every month. If left untreated, ingrown toenails can send you straight to the doctor and into surgery. However, proper treatment and prevention at home can keep you on your feet and away from the podiatrist.
If you are suffering from an infected ingrown toenail, the first thing to concentrate on is getting rid of the infection. Infected toenails can be very dangerous if left alone, leaving you at risk for tetanus. Your toenail may be infected if it is red, swelling and filled with pus. Gently clean the toenail with hydrogen peroxide and a sterile cotton ball. You need to visit your doctor if the infection has persisted for two or more days or does not improve after treatment.
After treating the infection, fill a basin with warm water and sprinkle in Epsom salts or baking soda. You will need to soak your injured foot for 15 to 20 minutes or however long it takes the skin and nails of your foot to soften and become pliable. After soaking, dry the foot with a clean towel. Gently lift the embedded nail from your skin as much as you can. Do this very gently because this step may hurt tremendously. Once the nail is lifted, wedge a sterile cotton ball under the nail, keeping the nail from embedding back into the skin. This will encourage the nail to grow out and over the skin. This will be a daily treatment until the nail had grown out and away from the skin. The toe will need to be treated with antibiotics, such as Neosporin, every day until the nail grows out as well. Wear sandals and wrap the toe with gauze until the condition improves. If your toe worsens or the infection is not improving, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Do not let an infected toe heal itself. It will not heal and you will be in pain and in trouble.
Ingrown toenails are the result of poor footwear, improper care or a foot injury. Wear comfortable shoes that leave plenty of room for your toes to wiggle. Give your feet a nice, warm bath every week or so with the salts. Always cut your toenails straight across in a square, never rounded, shape. Always soak your feet before cutting the nails.