How to Get Rid Of an Ingrown Toenail the Natural Way

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A foot in the sand.

If you’re in the habit of cutting your toenails too short or wearing tight shoes – chances are you’ve had an ingrown toenail. I’ve had one once and the experience made me change my foot care habits completely! It can be so painful, I never want an ingrown toenail again!

What appears to be a minor ailment can actually become quite serious. If you don’t attend to your ingrown toenail, it can become infected and the infection can spread to your whole body – which is life-threatening. If you’ve just noticed the beginnings of an ingrown toenail, don’t worry, there are ways to deal with it at home. Here’s how to get rid of an ingrown toenail the natural way.

What Is an Ingrown Toenail?

A graphic showing an ingrown toenailsLet’s start with the basics – what exactly is an ingrown toenail? Well, it’s a very common condition in which the corner or side of your toenail grows into the surrounding flesh. Eventually the nail will pierce the skin, leaving you with an open wound at high risk of infection. (source)

Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail

It will usually be quite obvious when you have an ingrown toenail as the corner of the toenail will visibly be growing into the surrounding flesh. There are some more symptoms to look out for too:

  • Pain at the edge of the nail – it will get worse the longer you leave it
  • Redness, throbbing and swelling around the toenail
  • Tender toe making it difficult to walk/wear shoes
  • Leaking fluid or blood from the wound


How to Avoid Ingrown Toenails

The best solution for an ingrown toenail is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some tips to keep your toes healthy and happy:

  • Cut your nails straight across and not too short
  • Inspect your feet daily, especially if you injure a toe
  • Never wear shoes that are too small for you
  • Use a pumice stone regularly around the toes to avoid hard skin
  • Avoid pedicures
  • Never remove the cuticles from your toenails

(sources: 12)

A man's feet in water on a sandy beach.

How to Get Rid Of an Ingrown Toenail the Natural Way

There are some prerequisites to all of these methods to get rid of an ingrown toenail the natural way. First of all, you must thoroughly clean your foot with an antibacterial soap, and then clean your toe again with rubbing alcohol. This is to minimise risk of infection.

Your tools (tweezers, nail clipper) must be sterilized with rubbing alcohol or boiling water. After you’ve done that, you have a few different options, most of which work by softening the skin in which the nail is embedded.

1. Warm Water Soak

Soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water alone will soften the skin around your toenails. You should do this for 20-30 minutes twice daily. Some substances you can add to the water for antibacterial or extra softening effect are:

2. Natural Oils

Apply a mixture of natural oils to the affected toenail twice daily to reduce infection, relieve pain and soften the skin. You should dilute these with olive oil before using (1 drop in 1tbsp of olive oil). Some good oils are:

3. Lemon

Place a thin slice of lemon over the affected area. Tie it onto the toe with gauze and leave overnight. Replace twice a day. The acidity of the lemon will fight infection and soften the skin.

4. Lotion

Apply lotion, petroleum jelly or moisturiser to the ingrown toenail at least twice daily to soften skin. Make sure to use a non fragranced brand with no rough particles.

A man's feet in water.

After you have softened the skin, you can use a tweezers to try and carefully separate the nail corner from the flesh where it has become embedded. If you are successful, you can place a piece of sterile cotton under the nail to keep it from becoming embedded again (change this cotton daily) or use a nail clipper to clip excess nail material.

Next, clean away any blood or fluid and use rubbing alcohol to sterilize the feet again. Try to avoid wearing socks and shoes at home, instead wear open-toe slippers. Apply antibacterial cream twice a day

(sources: 123)

When to See a Doctor

Of course it’s best to see a doctor rather than trying to get rid of an ingrown toenail at home. If you don’t see any improvement after 3 days with the above methods, you should get it checked out.

If you have diabetes or notice symptoms of infection, don’t even try treating it at home. Diabetics are at higher risk of complications with foot injuries and pain may not be as apparent due to poor circulation.

Symptoms of infection include: severe pain, pus, abscess (fluid filled blister), severe swelling or redness and fever or flu-like symptoms. If you notice any of these signs, see a doctor immediately as the infection can spread and become life-threatening. You will most likely need an antibiotic. (source)


I hope these tips on how to get rid of an ingrown toenail the natural way have been helpful for you. I’d love to hear how you get on with them in the comments and if you know any other methods let me know too.

Most of us will suffer from an ingrown toenail at least once in our lives. Although ingrown toenails are usually not serious, they can be really painful and inconvenient. Be sure to heed the tips to keep your toes healthy and happy to make sure you minimise the risk.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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