Have you pretty much chipped off all the pre-COVID polish off your usually well “pedicured” nails?  Other than the fact that your toenails may not be as “stage” ready in recent weeks, I have seen many patients with painful ingrown toenails because they can’t get their usual pedicures to groom the pain away!  Many people get them on a regular basis because, without them, their ingrown nails would sideline them from many of the things they love to do! Then there are many of you who just get ingrown nails or are have gotten one for the first time!

When you get an ingrown nail, the nail gets to digging into the flesh along the sides of the toes and can really make the toe sore!  Ingrown nails can also become infected! Most people can feel an ingrown nail coming on pretty early in the process, but too many of us wait until it is too late. Don’t let this happen to you! Here are a few easy steps to care for that ingrown until you can safely get back to your pedicure!

  • Epsom salt soak: Soaking your foot/toe in an Epsom salt solution helps to soften the nail and the thicker skin around the nail and can also help to draw out fluid in the event the nail is trying to cause an infection. The easiest way to make an Epsom salt solution is to fill up a basin with warm water to cover the feet to ankle level. Check the temperature with your hand first to make sure it is lukewarm, not hot!  Some people may not have good sensation to their hands and/or feet.  If you have diabetes with neuropathy or neuropathy from any other cause, have someone else with good sensation check the temperature for you or use a thermometer to make sure the water is no warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add about ½ cup of Epsom salts (not table salt - they are not the same!) to the water and soak your foot for about 15-20 minutes.  
  • Clean toe: Wash your foot with anti-bacterial soap and water or better yet, if you have it available, swab the toe with Betadine. This solution is an antiseptic and less of a skin irritant than hydrogen peroxide. Avoid Betadine if you have an allergy to iodine or shellfish.
  • Trimming nail:  I usually recommend trimming our toenails straight across and rounding off the edges with a nail file as a way to prevent ingrown toenails.  I make an exception to this when you are already experiencing pain.  In mild cases, I recommend trimming the nail edges with your clippers after steps 1 and 2.‚Äč

When to see us?  You can see us at any time, but in particular, here are several reasons I recommend you coming in sooner than later: 

  • If you have some mild tenderness, but you are not comfortable with trying to trim your nail yourself.
  • If you have attempted to trim the nail, but it did not provide pain relief within a few hours.
  • If your toe is very inflamed, looks infected, and/or is too painful to attempt to trim the nail.

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