An ingrown toenail, medically known as onychocryptosis, is a quite common condition. It occurs when the side edge of the nail begins to dig into the toe’s skin. The nail can break through the flesh and cause various symptoms like inflammation and pain.

get rid of ingrown toenail
Learn the best home remedies for ingrown toenail that actually work

This problem generally occurs in the big toe. However, other toenails or fingernails may also become ingrown. From minor discomfort to constant pain, the condition may vary in its severity depending upon the stage it is in.

In its early stage, an ingrown toenail can be treated effectively at home. If the affected area becomes infected, it is best to consult your doctor. Serious cases may also require surgical intervention.

Causes of Ingrown Toenail

Several factors may lead to this problem. Here are a few common causes of an ingrown toenail.

  • High-heeled or tight shoes that put too much pressure on the toes.
  • Improper cutting of the toenails.
  • An injury, such as dropping something heavy on your foot, repeated kicking or stubbing your toe.
  • Fungal or bacterial infections.
  • Insufficient foot hygiene.
  • Curved or irregular toenails.
  • Deformities of the foot or toes.
  • Genetic factors.

Health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and obesity may also increase the risk of developing an ingrown toenail.

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenail

The symptoms associated with an ingrown toenail may vary depending upon the severity of the condition.

Early stage symptoms:

  • The skin around the affected area becomes swollen and tender.
  • Pain when exerting pressure on the toe.
  • Fluid buildup.

Symptoms of an infected ingrown toenail:

  • Redness and inflammation.
  • Pain and bleeding.
  • Skin overgrowth around the infected toe.

Home Treatment for Ingrown Toenail Relief

This utterly discomforting problem rarely goes unnoticed. Chances are you will easily catch it in its early stage. Here are eight home remedies for ingrown toenail that actually work. The ingredients used in these easy-to-follow remedies are inexpensive and widely available.

Method 1: Epsom Salt

Magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salt, offers a number of health benefits. It has soothing and healing properties. It can be used for relieving muscle cramps, treating sunburns, removing toxins from the body, easing aches and pains, treating foot pain and more.

Epsom salt is a drying agent and also has disinfectant properties. An Epsom salt soak will help soften the skin around the ingrown toenail, thus making it easier to draw it out from the skin. It will also help reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain.

Single-Step Treatment: Soak your foot in an Epsom salt bath 4 times a week

soak your feet
Use Epsom salt baths to treat an ingrown toenail at home
  • Fill up a small tub with warm water.
  • Add ¼ cup of Epsom salt to it and mix well.
  • Soak the affected foot in it for about 20 minutes.
  • Dry your foot afterward.

You can use this remedy 4 times a week.

Method 2: Hydrogen Peroxide

Food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide helps to heal an ingrown toenail by softening the skin around the affected area. Once the skin becomes soft, you may easily trim the nail. Not only this, but hydrogen peroxide will also help prevent infection and alleviate the pain. (1)

This ingredient is readily available at drugstores in a diluted form that can be safely used for natural home remedies.

Single-Step Treatment: Soak your foot in 3% hydrogen peroxide bath twice a day

hydrogen peroxide soak for ingrown toenail
Soak your foot in diluted hydrogen peroxide to get rid of an ingrown toenail
  • Fill up a foot tub with warm water.
  • Add ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to it.
  • Soak the affected foot in it for about 30 minutes.
  • Once finished, thoroughly pat dry your foot.

For best results, use this remedy 2 times a day until the toenail heals.

Method 3: Cut in a V-shape

Apart from the home remedies for an ingrown toenail, cutting a V-shape into the middle of your ingrown toenail will prevent it from growing sideways and further into your flesh. This method will reverse the ingrown toenail and works best in the early stages of the problem. (1)

Single-Step Treatment: Use a nail clipper to cut a ‘V’ in your toenail

cut v shape
Clip your nails in V-shape to remove the ingrown toenail yourself
  • Turn the clippers to a 45-degree angle and clip the first side of the V into the middle of the toenail. The cut should be a small one.
  • Make a similar cut in the opposite direction. The cuts should appear to meet each other in the middle. If you are unable to make them meet in the middle with a perfect V-shape, try clipping as much as possible from the corners.
  • Leave your toenail with the V-shape cut for a few days. This will allow it to grow back as normal.
  • Resume normal trimming once the toenail outgrows the V-shape cut.

Method 4: Dental Floss

Other than thoroughly cleaning between your teeth, dental floss can also be used for treating an ingrown toenail. This method helps provide quick relief and allows the skin to heal by forcing the nail to grow away from it. It will also stop the toenail from causing further damage. (1)

This method may cause a little discomfort, but the results will certainly be worth it.

Single-Step Treatment: Put dental floss under the edge of the ingrown toenail

put dental floss
Use dental floss to prevent the toenail from growing inwards
  • Soak the foot with the ingrown toenail in water for about 20 minutes.
  • Pat your foot dry.
  • You may apply some clove oil on the corners of your toenail.
  • Carefully place the dental floss beneath the edge of the toenail.

Repeat this remedy several times a week to get rid of an ingrown toenail.

Method 5: Castor Oil

Castor oil is commonly used for skin and hair care. It is rich in vitamin E, proteins, minerals, and several other beneficial nutrients. The ricinoleic acid found in this oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Castor oil can be used to treat spasms, cramps, muscle tension, warts, corns and more. It is one of the most popular home remedies for an ingrown toenail. It helps to heal the ingrown toenail by increasing the blood circulation and softening the skin around the affected area. This will allow the toenail to come out naturally.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply castor oil on the toenail & leave it overnight

castor oil for ingrown toenail
Dab the ingrown toenail with some castor oil
  • Use a cotton ball to apply some castor oil on the affected area.
  • Let it stay overnight.

Use this method daily until the ingrown toenail is healed.

Method 6: Cotton under the Nail

Placing cotton under the affected toenail helps by enabling the nail to grow away from the flesh of your toe. This method effectively reduces the pain and allows the affected area to heal quickly. (1) (2)

You may experience some discomfort initially, but it will not last for long. Don’t apply too much pressure while pushing the cotton under the toenail. Go only as far as the inflamed skin allows.

Single-Step Treatment: Soak your foot & place some cotton under the ingrown toenail

place cotton under ingrown toenail
Place a piece of cotton under the ingrown toenail after a soak
  • Soak the affected foot in a tub full of warm water.
  • Dry your foot thoroughly.
  • Use a pair of tweezers to gently lift the ingrown toenail and place a small piece of cotton under it.
  • Replace the cotton each time you soak your foot.

Use this remedy regularly until you begin to see results.

Method 7: Vicks

The use of this menthol-based ointment has extended far beyond treating coughs and congestion. Vicks become the go-to solution for a number of problems like toenail fungus, insect bites, achy muscles, cracked heels and more.

Applying Vicks on the ingrown toenail will help alleviate the pain and promote the healing process. (3)

Single-Step Treatment: Apply Vicks on the ingrown nail

Apply Vicks on the ingrown nail
Vicks is another easy home remedy for ingrown toenail
  • Gently apply Vicks on your ingrown toenail.
  • Leave it overnight.

Follow this remedy for up to 20 days to see the infection clearing up and healthy toenail growing back.

Method 8: Apple Cider Vinegar

Packed with antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, apple cider vinegar has a long list of benefits. It helps relieve the symptoms associated with an ingrown toenail and keeps any infection at bay. (4)

Step 1. Prepare a foot bath with apple cider vinegar and warm water

soak in apple cider vinegar
Soak in diluted apple cider vinegar to treat ingrown toenail without surgery
  • Fill up a tub with warm water.
  • Pour in about 15 ounces of apple cider vinegar and mix it well.
  • Put the affected foot in the tub and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  • Use a towel to dry your foot thoroughly.

Use this home remedy for ingrown toenail daily until you get the desired results.

Alternatively, you can soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, put it over the affected area and use a bandage to keep it in place. Leave it on for 2 to 3 hours.

Consuming apple cider vinegar will also promote the healing process. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into 8 ounces of water. Drink it once or twice a day.

Tips to get relief from ingrown toenail at home

  • Wear proper footwear that does not put pressure on your toes.
  • Maintain proper foot hygiene. Clean your feet the correct way to keep them healthy.
  • Avoid wearing shoes or socks at home. Exposing the affected area to air will accelerate the healing process.
  • Scrub your feet regularly to get rid of dead skin from feet.
  • Keep an eye on the affected toenail. Look for signs of an infection. Consult your doctor if needed.
  • Keep your feet dry.
  • Trim your nails straight across on a regular basis.
  • Rest is required to allow the affected area to heal.

Resources:

  1. Goldstein BG, Goldstein AO. Management of ingrown toenails. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/management-of-ingrown-toenails. Published June 1, 2017.
  2. Heidelbaugh JJ, Lee H. Management of the ingrown toenail. American Family Physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19235497. Published February 15, 2009.
  3. Derby R, Rohal P, Jackson C, Beutler A, Olsen C. Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: a clinical case series. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21209346. Published 2011.
  4. Authenticating apple cider vinegar's home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. Natural Product Research Formerly Natural Product Letters. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14786419.2017.1413567?journalCode=gnpl20. Published December 11, 2017.