An ingrown toenail, medically referred to as onychocryptosis, is a painful condition in which the nail grows in a way that cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. Instinct may be to clip off the painful intruder, but research shows cutting out an ingrown nail the wrong way may actually make the condition worse and therefore should only be done by a qualified podiatrist or physician. However, if seeing a doctor isn’t possible, and weeks of using these at-home remedies hasn't cleared up your ingrown toenail condition, here is the correct way to cut out the ingrown nail yourself.
Step One: Begin With Softening Epsom Salt Footbaths
Soak your foot in a warm bath for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day to soften the skin, reduce inflammation and help battle any existing bacteria and/or infection. For added relief and to speed up your healing time, add a few tablespoons of skin softening Epsom salt, hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial soap to the water. This will prepare both the nail and the skin for a cut that is less likely to lead to ingrown toenail infection and other complications.
Step Two: Separate The Ingrown Nail From Your Skin
After two or three days of foot soaks, create a homemade “lift” to separate the ingrown nail from the skin by using a toothpick to gently push the edge of the nail away from the skin and then slipping a small, rolled up piece of cotton between the nail and the skin. This will help relieve the pain and prevent the toenail from further piercing the skin.
Step Three: Trim the Ingrown Toenail
If the nail is longer than the tip of your toe, use clean toenail clippers to cut the nail straight across. If the toenail is not longer than the tip of your toe, it is advised that you continue using clean homemade lifts for pain relief and wait for the nail to grow out before trimming. Research shows that cutting a nail too short or cutting the toenail in a curved shape are common causes of the ingrown nail in the first place. Cutting too soon or in the wrong shape can lead to yet another ingrown nail — this time more exacerbated than the first and likely to cause chronic ingrown toenail issues.
Step Four: Treat The Irritated Wound And Surrounding Skin
Once the nail is cut, be sure to keep the affected area clean and wrapped in gauze or a bandage. You can also use one of these at-home remedies to speed up healing and relieve pain, as well as wear sandals, shoes with extra wide toe boxes or go barefoot as often as possible while the ingrown toenail is healing.
*Note: If the ingrown toenail returns or if signs of infection like swelling, fever and persistent pain are present, you may need professional help from a podiatrist. People who suffer from diabetes should not try cutting their ingrown toenails at home.