Ingrown nail: therapy and natural remedies

An ingrown nail (Unguis incarnatus or Onychocryptosis) is when a toenail or fingernail grows into the skin of the finger or toe.

The nail plate is deformed and instead of running in its normal anatomical seat, it grows laterally into the soft tissues.

At the initial stage, the body forms calluses to protect the skin, but if left untreated, the disorder may develop and cause a skin injury.
The result is inflammation and infection of the skin at the edges of the nail.

An ingrown nail is mainly found in young people, but it can also be affected:

  • Infants
  • babies and newborns,
  • Elderly.


Signs and symptoms of ingrown nail

In an ingrown nail, the surrounding skin is:

1. red, 2. swollen, 3. inflamed,

4. painful.

Complications of ingrown nail

If left untreated, an infection and other potentially serious complications form around the ingrown nail.

With infection, the symptoms are:

  • Loss of blood
  • accumulation of pus,
  • bad smell.

A granuloma can form, i.e. a mass of skin tissue that often contains pus.

Ingrown nail and diabetes

The complications can be especially serious if the patient has diabetes, because this disease causes:

  • reduction of blood flow,
  • Nerve damage to the feet.

For this reason, it is possible that even a minor injury to the foot will not heal and cause infection, such as:

  • a cut,
  • Calluses
  • an ingrown nail.

In the case of an ulcer on the foot (non-scarred and difficult-to-heal lesion), surgical intervention may be necessary to prevent deterioration, which can lead to:

  • osteomyelitis (inflammation of bones),
  • gangrene (tissue necrosis),
  • Sepsis (blood poisoning).

Gangrene is characterized by the interruption of blood flow in this area of the body.

Causes of ingrown nails

Causes of an ingrown nail can be:

  • curved nails;
  • bruise or trauma to the fingers or toes;
  • improper cutting of toenails, one corner of the nail remains too long and can grow into the skin;
  • ill-fitting shoes – if the shoes are too tight, they press the nails under the skin;
  • fungal disease (mycosis) of the nails, can lead to thicker or wider nails;
  • use of retinoids, which are drugs that are usually taken for skin diseases such as acne; these medicines cause brittle nails that break easily;
  • deformation of toenails; according to a study by Córdoba-Fernández, Montaño-Jiménez, Coheña-Jiménez del Departamento de Podología, Universidad de Sevilla, the valgus position of the big toe (hallux valgus) is one of the risk factors for an ingrown nail;
  • another risk factor is profuse sweating along with inadequate hygiene.

What to do in case of ingrown nail?

How to treat an ingrown nail? Therapy
Although this painful disease can develop on all fingers and toes, the most affected is the big toe.
Ingrown nails are small inconveniences, but timely treatment prevents:

  • deterioration,
  • Complications.

Natural remedies for laterally ingrown nails are effective, but must be applied before infection develops.
Self-treatment should be avoided at all costs with an ingrown nail, because a mistake can worsen the infection.

antibiotics: If the doctor suspects signs of inflammation, he may prescribe an antibiotic that prevents the spread of the infection. The oral antibiotic cycle must be completed completely, otherwise recurrent infections (recurrent infections) may develop.
At the initial stage, doctors often prescribe an ointment containing gentamicin and betamethasone (sulmycin ointment with Celestan-V).

Natural remedies for ingrown nail

Natural remedies are recommended for an ingrown nail of the first degree, i.e. if there is inflammation but no infection.

Some natural remedies can help:

  • alleviate the symptoms,
  • prevent infection.

Cutting. If toenails or fingernails are strongly arched to the sides, you should not try to get to the gnawing licks yourself, but turn to an appropriate specialist (podiatrist).

Footwear. Many problems of toenails are caused by wearing the wrong shoes.
Therefore, you should use well-fitting and not too tight footwear. It is recommended not to wear tight-fitting stockings, as they can favor the appearance of an ingrown nail.

Lukewarm water bath. A proven home remedy is to soften the affected nails for a few minutes in a lukewarm or warm (but not hot) water bath.
In case of infection, you can also add a disinfectant to the water, which has a germicidal effect.
After that, the skin must be carefully separated from the nail with scissors to return the nail corner to its original shape.

Saltwater bath. One of the natural remedies that can also be used during pregnancy is bathing the affected foot in lukewarm salt water.
To relieve the pain:

  • add a tablespoon of Epsom salt or bicarbonate to lukewarm water;
  • wait until it has completely dissolved;
  • bathe the affected foot in salt water for about 10-15 minutes.

Keep the area dry. To minimize the risk of infection, the affected area must be kept dry. Therefore, after bathing in warm or salted water, the affected area of the foot should be dried well with a towel.
It is recommended to wear comfortable and open sandals to reduce sweating.

Massage the affected area. Self-help measures include massage in the adjacent area of the ingrown nail for a few minutes daily. This stimulates blood circulation and thus helps in the treatment of the disease.
For the massage you can use an essential oil that has antiseptic properties and helps to heal the ingrown nail, such as tea tree oil.

Iodine tincture helps to inhibit inflammation and disinfect the skin.

Cotton cloth. If the ingrown nail is still in the initial phase, you can clamp a small piece of cotton between the skin and nail to lift the edge of the nail and thus promote normal growth.

If you have a chronically ingrown nail or signs of infection, you should visit a medical pedicure practice.

Those who suffer from diabetes and are prone to frequent infections should better visit a foot care than try to treat the nail themselves.

Treatment by a podiatrist for ingrown nail

An ingrown nail does not heal on its own and if left untreated, infection can develop.

The patient needs to turn to a podiatrist, this is not a doctor, but a medical podiatrist.
Treatment of an ingrown nail of the first degree consists in removing the ingrown part of the nail: the podiatrist removes a small triangle of the nail on the side where the skin is inflamed.

As a rule, this does not cause much pain, but the podiatrist can numb the area a little with:

  • Spray
  • a lidocaine-based cream.

Here, instead of a cosmetic, preferably a medical pedicure should be used.

However, if the nail is infected and hurts badly, the patient must go to a hospital, where doctors can surgically remove the nail.
After the operation, the podiatrist or doctor connects the wound area with an antiseptic bandage, which must not be removed for a few days until the affected area has healed.

Several sessions may be necessary to achieve complete healing.
As a rule, a check-up is carried out 2, 7 and 14 days after treatment.
As a rule, the toe is intact within 2 weeks.
In diabetics, the healing process takes longer, therefore:

  • the doctor prescribes antibiotics,
  • the association remains applied for a longer period of time.

With curved toenails, ingrown nails may occur repeatedly.
In this case, correct cutting of the nails can help. However, further operations may also be necessary.