What are some good home remedies for an ingrown toenail?
November 1, 2004 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Toefilter: Besides going to the doctor, do you have any good cures for a hangnail, especially if there's not much visible nail to cut off?
posted by drezdn to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The first real hangnail I had (one with severe pain, puss, and blood) was a couple months ago. I just let it be (except for cleaning as much puss as possible) since I was too wimpy to "pop" it. After a few days the swelling/sensitiving reduced enough to where I could dig the nail out. I don't know if all hangnails are like this though.
posted by MrAnonymous at 11:34 PM on November 1, 2004

Don't know how severe it is.. but use a plaster (band-aid) to secure it until it's calmed down enough for you to get at it?
posted by ascullion at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2004

I don't know if you're talking about what most people mean as a "hangnail"--generally, a hangnail is when you've got that little sliver of skin along the side of a nail that's peeling back from the tip of your finger.

You don't really say whether it's on your finger or on your toe, but especially if it's on your big toe, it sounds like what you've got is an "ingrown toenail", where the nail grows in under the skin, and the area gets irritated (or even infected, in your case).

If it is an ingrown toenail, once it's there, there's not much you can do yourself beyond keeping it very clean, maybe some Neosporin, etc. A doctor can actually dig it out and fix it up a bit, if necessary.

If you are getting ingrown toenails, though, the best way to prevent them is _not_ to cut your nails too short. You want to keep the nail on your big toe cut square, not curved (although you can file down the point on the corner a bit), and you want to keep it long enough that it stays out over the area where it tends to "dig in".

(If you _are_ talking about a hangnail, and by "nail" you mean that little sliver of skin, then I think the only thing you can do is treat it as a cut...Neosporin and a band-aid.)
posted by LairBob at 4:35 AM on November 2, 2004

(Whoops...missed the "ToeFilter" label. Does really sound more like an ingrown toenail, then.)
posted by LairBob at 4:54 AM on November 2, 2004

Mild ingrown toenails can be mostly dealt with at home if you're not squeamish about doing a little home surgery. I am speaking as someone who deals with such toenails frequently NOT as a medical professional. LairBob is right that keeping it clean is the biggest deal and letting the nail grow out is important. However, you can also manage toenails once they have gotten ingrown. The deal is to basically try to help the infection heal itself by treating it with antibiotic ointment, soaking it in hot water to help the pus drain and opening the infected area up so it's not a festering closed system.

To this end, I do this: soak the toe and drain the pus out as much as possible. If it's not incredibly painful I see if I can massage some of the skin around the grown-in nail to coax it away from the nail, and ease the nail to grow around it. You can also use nail clippers to try to trim a notch near the infected area which, as it grows out, will make the ingrown part of the nail easier to remove yourself. If you've got any space between the end of the toenail and your toe, roll up a small piece of cotton or gauze to about the width of a pencil lead or narrower and gently wedge it underneath the toenail as close to the infection as you can. It's painful but ultimately pretty helpful. Put some Neosporin or other topical anitbiotic on this and wrap your toe in a bandage to keep the little cotton roll in place. Repeat the soaking/gauzing every few hours. I don't know the medical terminology here, but opening up an ingrown toenail infection to the air can help it heal more quickly, and continue to drain. I've been able to deal with mine pretty well at home.
posted by jessamyn at 5:55 AM on November 2, 2004 [2 favorites]

I had ingrown toenails frequently as a kid. My dad's solution was to cut them out with a pair of barber shears. I'm sure the neighbors thought he was killing me.

Later, we discovered there was surgery that could prevent them from happening in the first place, and we both did that (he suffered from them as well). I still get them occasionally, because the surgery didn't kill 100% of the matrix cells at the side of my toenail and so I get a little sliver of nail that can dig in pretty nastily, but they're easily dug out with a pair of cuticle clippers without much pain.
posted by kindall at 6:20 AM on November 2, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, I did mean ingrown toenail.
posted by drezdn at 6:46 AM on November 2, 2004

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