Can pedicures cause ingrown toenails

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10 Remedies for Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail happens when the corner or edge of your toenail curves and grows into the surrounding skin. This may cause pain, redness, and swelling. The condition is very common in both men and women. Your big toe is most likely to be affected.
Common causes of ingrown toenails are:

  • toenail trauma, such as stubbing your toe
  • wearing shoes that are too tight
  • cutting toenails too short
  • cutting toenails at an angle

To prevent infection, it’s important to treat ingrown toenails as soon as they occur. Mild cases may require minor treatment with home remedies. Serious cases may need surgical intervention.

Here are 10 common ingrown toenail remedies.

Soaking the affected foot may help reduce swelling and ease pain. You can soak your foot in warm, soapy water three times a day for up to 20 minutes at a time. Castile soap is a good option. Adding Epsom salts to the water may bring additional relief.

Apple cider vinegar is a folk remedy for almost everything these days, including ingrown toenails. It’s believed to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving abilities, although scientific evidence is limited at best.

To try this remedy, prepare a basin of warm water combined with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Soak the affected foot for up to 20 minutes daily. Dry your foot thoroughly after soaking.

Mayo Clinic recommends tucking small bits of cotton or waxed dental floss under the edge of an ingrown toenail to encourage proper nail growth. Not every medical group agrees.

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, placing cotton under your nail may increase pain and allow harmful bacteria to thrive. Soaking the cotton or floss in alcohol before application may help reduce this risk.

Using over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or cream can promote healing and help reduce the risk of infection. Apply the ointment to the affected toenail following the manufacturer’s instructions, usually up to three times daily. These ointments include Neosporin, Polysporin, and Bactroban. Be sure to bandage the toenail after application.

Shoes and socks that are too tight can crowd your toes. This is considered to be a leading cause of ingrown toenails. To help prevent an ingrown toenail from developing or worsening, wear shoes and socks or hosiery that fit but still leave ample space in the toe bed. During the healing process, avoid shoes or wear sandals as much as possible to limit pressure on your toenails.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help relieve ingrown toenail pain. Side effects are unusual unless you take more than the daily recommended amount of 3,000 milligrams daily or you take it with alcohol.

If swelling is present, ibuprofen (Advil) may be a better option because it relieves both pain and swelling. Some common side effects of ibuprofen include abdominal pain, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Take all over-the-counter pain relievers as directed by the manufacturer or your doctor.

A toe protector provides a cushioning barrier for ingrown toenails. Toe protectors are available as rings that fit around the affected area or as a covering for the entire toe. Some brands of toe protectors, such as Dr. Scholl’s, come with a medicated gel to help soften toenails for easy trimming. Use the treatment as directed until the ingrown toenail is gone.

Toe braces are usually made of thin, adhesive, composite material and are glued to the top of your toe. They’re meant to help shield your skin from a sharp, ingrown nail and lift the nail edges as your nail grows. Toe braces are available online and in some pharmacies.

Oral antibiotics aren’t routinely prescribed for uninfected ingrown toenails. There’s no evidence that they improve the condition. Still, if you have an infected nail or a weakened immune system, you may need oral antibiotics.

Some signs of infection are:

  • increased redness
  • throbbing pain
  • increased swelling
  • pus
  • warmth in the affected toe and its surrounding area
  • foul odor

Some antibiotics used to treat infected ingrown toenails are ampicillin, amoxicillin, and vancomycin.

If an ingrown toenail doesn’t improve with home remedies, partial or full removal of the nail may be necessary. Using a local anesthetic, a doctor may remove part of the nail’s border, the underlying nail bed, or part of the middle growth plate.

In severe, recurring cases, the entire ingrown nail may be removed. This is a last resort, and a potentially painful solution that may increase your risk of infection. It also increases the risk that your toenail will be misshapen as it grows back.

Learn more: How to treat an ingrown toenail »

Minor foot problems like ingrown toenails may cause serious complications in some people. See your doctor if you have an ingrown toenail and you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor circulation, or you have a compromised immune system.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • Pain and swelling are severe.
  • Home remedies don’t improve the condition.
  • You have an allergic skin reaction to a home remedy.
  • You have questions about how to care for an ingrown toenail.

Check out: Diabetes foot care »

Most ingrown toenails aren’t serious. They should improve within a week or so without causing permanent damage with the proper home care. Left untreated, ingrown toenails may cause severe pain and infection that could spread to the bone.

It’s common for ingrown toenails to recur, especially if you don’t take steps to prevent them.

Prevention tips

  • Move around carefully to avoid toenail trauma.
  • Trim your toenails straight across, no shorter than the tip of your toe.
  • If your job increases your risk of toenail injury, wear protective footgear.

can pedicures cause ingrown toenails
How You Can Prevent and Treat Painful Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail, with the side edge of your nail growing into the skin, can make you painfully aware of a toe you don’t normally notice.

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As the nail continues to dig into the skin, it irritates it, causing pain.

“If an ingrown toenail causes a break in the skin, bacteria can enter and cause an infection, which will make it even more painful. A red, swollen, hot and very painful ingrown toenail is probably infected,” says podiatrist Georgeanne Botek, DPM.

Common causes of ingrown toenails

Dr. Botek shares the most common causes of painful ingrown toenails:

Heredity. Many people inherit the tendency to develop ingrown toenails from one or both parents.

Ill-fitting footwear. Crowding your feet into socks and shoes that are too short or tight can set up an environment for painful ingrown toenails to develop. This is why adolescents and teens often get ingrown toenails.

“Due to sudden growth spurts and body changes, teens and adolescents may outgrow their footwear quickly and can end up wearing them a while before buying new, better-fitting shoes,” Dr. Botek says.

Trauma. Occasionally, stubbing or jamming your toe, dropping something on your toe or participating in activities that put repeated pressure on your toes (like running, soccer or ballet) can cause ingrown toenails to develop.

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Improper trimming. One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is cutting them too short. When nails are very short, it encourages the skin at the sides of the nail to fold over it. Don’t be overzealous with the clippers, and be sure to cut straight across.

Pedicures. Many women (and increasing numbers of men) enjoy getting pedicures. Nothing wrong with that, but make sure to go to an experienced technician. “Pedicures can cause ingrown nails if the nail technician is overly aggressive in cutting back a toenail,” says podiatrist Dina Stock, DPM.

What to do about ingrown toenail pain

Sometimes, you can treat your ingrown toenails at home. If your ingrown toenail doesn’t show any of the signs of infection — swelling, hot to the touch, oozing, foul odor — you might just try letting the nail grow out.

Soak it and wait. Dr. Stock suggests soaks in warm water with Epsom salts or a mild detergent, then applying an antibiotic ointment and bandage to the area.

Remove it yourself if there’s no infection. “First soak your feet in a very warm bath with Epsom salts. This softens the skin and reduces inflammation. Using clean nail-cutting tools, you can try to clip the affected area and apply antibiotic ointment afterward,” says Dr. Botek.

See a podiatrist. For infected ingrown toenails, or if you aren’t sure you can deal with treating yours at home, a podiatrist can perform the procedure under a local anesthetic.

“In the office, we can cut out the offending nail border after first numbing the area,” Dr. Stock says. This helps the pain and allows the infection to heal, but may not prevent recurring ingrown toenails.

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Never ignore an infected ingrown nail. A prolonged infection can spread and lead to serious complications, especially if you suffer from poor blood flow, an impaired immune system, or diabetic neuropathy.

For recurring ingrown nails, your doctor may suggest a common office procedure called the phenol and alcohol matrixectomy.

“During a matrixectomy, the doctor numbs the region and removes the problematic nail portion. The chemical phenol is then applied to burn and kill the cells that form the nail,” Dr. Botek says. This offers a more permanent solution to recurring ingrown nails.

Preventing ingrown toenails

Of course, it’s best to prevent getting ingrown nails in the first place. Experts Dr. Stock and Dr. Botek offer these suggestions:

  • Avoid cutting nails too short and cutting unevenly at the corners. Cut straight across.
  • Make sure your socks and shoes fit properly. You should be able to wiggle your toes easily in your shoes.
  • Avoid trauma to the toe area. If you run, play soccer or participate in other sports where your toes get a lot of action, try to go barefoot for an hour or two afterward.


How to Get Rid of Ingrown Toenails

How to Get Rid of Ingrown Toenails

Co-authored by Sarah Gehrke, RN

Updated: June 28, 2019

Explore this Article Packing an Ingrown Toenail Trying Unverified Home Remedies Preventing Ingrown Toenails Article Summary Questions & Answers Related Articles References

This article was co-authored by Sarah Gehrke, RN. Sarah Gehrke is a Registered Nurse in Texas. She received her M.S. in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2013.

There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

An ingrown toenail can be painful and unpleasant. However, there are things you can do to stop your toenail from growing into your skin. Doing so may even prevent you from having to get surgery to remove the ingrown toenail! Just make sure that your ingrown toenail is not infected by checking for warmth, pus, redness, and swelling. If you notice any of these signs of infection, see a doctor.[1]

Steps

Method 1 Packing an Ingrown Toenail

Image titled Remember What Your Doctor Tells You After an Appointment Step 9 1 Check with your doctor or podiatrist first if you are diabetic. It is important to keep your feet clean and to check for problems, such as ingrown toenails, if you are diabetic. However, your doctor may prefer that you do not try to treat an ingrown toenail yourself for safety reasons. Call your doctor and ask before you attempt any home treatments.[2] Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 15 2 Soak your foot in a mixture of cool to warm water and Epsom salt. Hot water will cause the area around your ingrown toenail to swell, so don’t use hot water.[3] Do this for 15-30 minutes at least twice daily. The goal here is twofold: to soften the toenail and prevent the ingrown nail from becoming infected. Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 5 3 Gather your tools and get ready. Get a cotton round, cotton ball, or any unflavored or unwaxed dental floss ready, a pair of disinfected tweezers, and a toenail lifter. Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 6 4 Keep your toenail slightly raised. Using a disinfected tool to place a small piece of cotton or unflavored dental floss between your toenail and the skin should keep the ingrown toenail from coming back.[4]
  • If you are using a cotton round or cotton ball, remove a small piece of cotton with the tweezers. If you are using unflavored dental floss, cut a 6 inches (15 cm) piece of dental floss.
  • Lift the corner of the ingrown toenail with the disinfected tweezers and gently work the cotton or dental floss under the nail. If desired, you may apply an antiseptic ointment, such as Neosporin, to the cotton or floss before sliding it under the nail.
  • Do not try to put the cotton or dental floss under the nail if the nail bed looks swollen or red.
  • Remove the cotton or dental floss daily, cleanse the area, and replace with new cotton or dental floss to reduce the risk of infection.
Image titled Get Rid of Bunions Step 1 5 Give your toe some air! Don't wear socks or shoes when you're at home. Image titled Relieve Ingrown Toe Nail Pain Step 17 6 Check back. If you keep the cotton or dental floss splint in place and treat your feet well, your ingrown toenail should grow back out within a few weeks.
  • Replace the cotton every day to keep the toe from becoming infected. If the toenail is painful, replace the cotton every other day, checking daily for infection.
Image titled Relieve Ingrown Toe Nail Pain Step 11 7 Ask your healthcare provider about taping. If your nails are still cutting into the skin, then you may also consider trying taping. Taping is when you secure a band-aid to the bottom of your toe and pull the skin away from the location where the nail is cutting into the nailbed. The trick is to move the skin away from the offending nail with the help of a band-aid. This can decrease pressure in the area, and if done properly, promote drainage and drying. However, you may want to ask your healthcare provider to show you the proper way to do this because it can be difficult to master.[5]

Method 2 Trying Unverified Home Remedies

Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 1 1 Soak your foot in cool water that's been treated with a povidone-iodine solution. Put one or two teaspoons of povidone-iodine into cool soaking water instead of Epsom salts. Povidone-iodine is an effective antiseptic.[6]
  • Keep in mind that this will not treat an ingrown toenail, but it may help to prevent an infection.
Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 17 2 Apply lemon juice and honey and bandage the toe overnight. Apply some fresh lemon juice and honey or Manuka honey to the toe.[7] Then wrap the toe with gauze and leave the bandage on overnight. The lemon and honey may help to fight the infection overnight.
  • Lemon has antimicrobial effects, but it will not get rid of an ingrown toenail.[8]
Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 7 3 Use oils to soften the skin around the toenail. Oils applied to the toenails can help moisturize and soften the skin, reducing the pressure put on the toenail when you have to wear shoes. Try the following oils for fast relief:
  • Tea tree oil: this essential oil is both an antibacterial and an antifungal agent that smells great.[9]
  • Baby oil: another great-smelling mineral oil, this doesn't have the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil, but works great for softening the skin.

Method 3 Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 19 1 Keep toenails at a moderate length and trim them straight across. Nails that are rounded have a higher chance of growing into the skin around the toes, creating problems.[10]
  • Use toenail clippers or nail scissors to trim toenails. Ordinary nail clippers are small enough that they tend to leave sharp edges near the corner of the toenail.
  • Optimally, try to cut your toenails once every 2-3 weeks. Unless your toenails grow extremely fast, cutting your toenails often won't give them a good chance to become ingrown.
Image titled Relieve Ingrown Toe Nail Pain Step 31 2 Avoid getting pedicures while your ingrown toenail is still bothering you. Pedicures can aggravate the skin underneath the nail; pedicure instruments can be less than sanitary, worsening or causing an infection. Image titled Remove an Ingrown Toenail Step 22 3 Make sure your shoes are the right size. Shoes that are too small and press on your toenails can easily cause them to become ingrown. Opt for roomier, bigger shoes instead of smaller, tighter ones.[11]
  • Try to wear open-toed shoes to prevent pressure on your toe. Since your toe should also be covered, use bandages or wear socks with sandals. Although this is unfashionable, it is better than having to get surgery.
Image titled Relieve Ingrown Toe Nail Pain Step 2 4 Be on the lookout if you regularly get ingrown toenails. If you get an ingrown toenail and do not care for it properly, then you are likely to get it again.[12] However, you can take steps to prevent that from happening. Image titled Relieve Ingrown Toe Nail Pain Step 18 5 Apply antibiotic cream to your feet twice a day. After you get out of the shower in the morning, and once before going to bed, apply antibiotic cream to the ingrown toenail and surrounding area.[13] Antibiotic cream will help reduce the risk of infection, which can lead to complications and increased pain.[14] Image titled Get Rid of Bunions Step 7 6 Soak your feet in cool to warm, soapy water for 15 to 30 minutes. After soaking your feet, rinse them well to get all the soap off. Then, dry them well with a clean towel. You may also apply some Neosporin and a bandaid to protect the ingrown toenail area.[15]

Community Q&A

Search Add New Question
  • Question How can I tell if it is getting infected? Community Answer Smell should be the first clue. Swelling with redness, drainage, and sensitivity to the lightest touch are good indicators also. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 23 Helpful 102
  • Question What if the whole entire toenail is infected? I already got it removed and it grew back like that. Community Answer Go back to the doctor ASAP. There is some kind of acid they can apply to prevent it from growing back in the future, but get it looked at sooner rather than later. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 14 Helpful 53
  • Question If any of these don't work, then should I see a foot doctor? Dvor Community Answer Absolutely. If no home remedies work, it is time to see a doctor. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 11 Helpful 44
  • Question If I have had an ingrown toenail before, will it happen constantly? Community Answer Not always. You have to make sure to prevent that from happening first by being careful about how you short you cut your nails and the size of shoes you choose. Always make sure you have some space for your toenails. This will prevent them from growly badly. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 6
  • Question Should I cut a V in the middle of my nail? Community Answer No, you should probably go see a doctor, especially, if you have an infection. If you start cutting it yourself, it may get much worse. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 15 Helpful 51
  • Question My toe is really infected, but I don't want to go to the doctor. What should I do? Community Answer Go to the doctor. If the infection gets really bad, you risk losing your toe. Your doctor will be able to prescribe you oral antibiotics or antibiotic ointment to take care of the infection. He can probably also refer you to a podiatrist who can surgically correct your ingrown toenail. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 44 Helpful 118
  • Question Is it true that I cannot have the nail removed by a doctor before the infection from the ingrown nail clears? Community Answer Yes, the infection needs to clear out first. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 3 Helpful 16
  • Question What should I do when my toe is making green pus? Community Answer An infected ingrown toenail that makes green pus should be treated immediately by a doctor. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 26 Helpful 73
  • Question Does it hurt to get an ingrown toenail removed? Unknown's Announcement Community Answer If it is done professionally and correctly, then no, it won’t hurt. You will just feel a slight pressure on the affected area after the removal depending on the severity. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 9
  • Question Do I have an ingrown toenail if I can't see any infection but my toe is sore? Community Answer There could be an ingrown toenail but there could also be other causes, so see your doctor before you take precautionary measures. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 59 Helpful 138
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Tips

  • Try to refrain from painting your toenails while they are ingrown. Unnecessary chemicals near the site may cause irritation. Plus, you might not notice any signs of infection for longer if the nail varnish hides any redness and/or discolouration.
  • Focus on getting rid of the ingrown toenail instead of waiting and watching as it becomes more painful. If the remedies you try don't work, consult your doctor; you may need help from them to cut/remove the nail, and you might need antibiotics if the toenail is infected.

Warnings

  • Your toenail is very susceptible to infection when it is ingrown, so do your best to keep it covered and clean to avoid serious consequences.
  • If your ingrown toenail is really swollen or has pus around it, it is most likely infected. See your doctor for some antibiotics before you insert the cotton or dental floss. Be aware that antibiotics simply reduce the infection and don't get the nail to grow back out, so the cotton or dental floss can be applied along with the antibiotics if your doctor approves of this method.
  • If the cotton method along with antibiotics does not work, see your doctor or podiatrist because you may need to have the nail surgically removed.[16]

Things You'll Need

  • Cool or warm foot soak
  • Epsom salt
  • Povidone Iodine
  • Cotton round or cotton ball
  • Tweezers or toenail lifter
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages

References

^ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ingrown-toenails/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355908 ^ https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/foot-problems ^ http://drnoahblum.com/pdf/ingrown-nail-instructions.pdf ^ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ingrown-toenails/DS00111/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3362847/ ^ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1743919117305368 ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609166/ ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4708628/ ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9055360 ^ https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001237.htm ^ https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001237.htm ^ https://cchcs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/60/2017/08/Ingrown-Toenail-Patient-Education.pdf ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472971/ ^ http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-ingrown-nail-treatment ^ http://drnoahblum.com/pdf/ingrown-nail-instructions.pdf ^ https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001237.htm Show more... (7)

Article SummaryX

If you have an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in a mixture of cool to warm water and Epsom salt for 15-30 minutes twice a day. This will soften the toenail and help prevent the ingrown nail from becoming infected. Lift the corner of your toenail with a pair of disinfected tweezers and place a small amount of cotton beneath the nail to keep it from growing into your skin. Replace the cotton daily. However, if the nail bed is swollen or red, you should see your doctor in case of an infection. Keep reading for tips from our medical reviewer on natural remedies that may help, like using tea tree oil.

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