As podiatrists, our patients are plagued with varied pedal complaints from fractures to sprains to varied skin conditions. Some pathologies are more common to a specific patient population; adults, geriatric, athletes. One pathology that does not discriminate and can present in both our youngest and oldest patients are painful ingrown toenails. Simply, the nail has curved into the skin and pain and swelling develops. For anyone who has suffered themselves this simple complaint can be quite debilitating, make walking in shoe gear difficult and can even develop into a much more severe infection if left untreated.
The internet offers many at home remedies but do they really work?
1. Soak in warm water - YES this can help decrease the inflammation as well as drain unwanted bacteria - we recommend adding Epsom salt as well. Soaking can also help soften the skin and nail which can make cutting much easier for the patient.
2. Place cotton or dental floss under the nail and leave until the nail grows out - this is an older remedy that really only can cause harm at this point, putting a foreign body under the nail can cause irritation. If you are thinking of trying this at home, I would consider a form of "bathroom surgery" and would recommend you calling our office to assist in alleviating your discomfort.
3. Soak in apple cider vinegar - although this all-natural remedy has antibacterial and microbial benefits - it is not going to remove the ingrown nail or heal an ongoing infection.
4. Avoid wearing tight shoes - wearing tight shoes can increase the friction and irritation of an ingrown nail as well as possibly cause a part of the nail to break off and cause more discomfort.
5. Taking an oral antibiotic - some patients before arriving in our office will take leftover antibiotics that they have in their medicine cabinet. Again, we recommend before self-treating in this manner please come to our office for a proper evaluation and treatment.
Things to know before arriving in our office - the goal of the visit is to remove the offending nail and drain any local infection and then the doctor will either address with a topical or oral antibiotic. It is better not to wait and come in before the problem turns into a red, hot, swollen toe/toes.