When you have an ingrown toenail, your feet won’t let you forget it. Typically caused by wearing too-tight shoes or cutting the nail too short or unevenly, an ingrown toenail is “a portion of the toenail that cuts into the skin surrounding a nail border, which can cause sharp pain, swelling and even infection if bacteria enters the wound,” podiatrist Dr. Jackie Sutera explained in an interview with Footwear News.
While Sutera warns that any sign of infection should be treated by a doctor immediately, there are a few over-the-counter remedies you can use to reduce pain and get your nail back on track when symptoms are less severe.
Below, check out her expert tips and tricks.
Try a curve corrector to help align the nail. When the sides of a nail cut into the surrounding skin, increased curvature of the entire nail results, Sutera explained. A small plastic brace, called a curve corrector, can be glued on top of the nail to help train it as it grows out.
Opt for a topical antibiotic ointment like Neosporin. “This is a great option, as it not only has antibacterial properties, but it can help relieve throbbing and swelling.”
Soak your feet with epsom salt in a warm bath. According to Sutera, the salt will help reduce the chance of infection, while the warm water has soothing effects.
Use stainless steel nail cutters to remove the jagged edge. “These should be used to cut the nail straight across all the way to the edge,” said Sutera.
Or try a cuticle stick to help isolate the offending edge. Available in plastic, wood and metal, this tool can be used to gently lift up the corner of the nail — so you can effectively cut away sharp edges — if the swelling isn’t too bad.
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