Treating Your Infected Ingrown Toenail with Epsom Salt


Ingrown toenails pose discomfort and present challenges in treatment. Several home remedies are available, such as soaking the affected ingrown toenail in an Epsom salt solution, which can be attempted prior to consulting a healthcare professional for further intervention.

What is an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails, medically termed onychocryptosis, arise when the edge of a toenail pierces the surrounding tissue or when skin overgrows onto the toenail bed. When the toenail breaches the skin, bacterial colonization begins, leading to swelling and potential fungal infections. Neglected, an ingrown toenail may escalate into severe health complications.

What are the symptoms of an infected, ingrown toenail?

Infected toenails exhibit distinct symptoms. Typically, the presence of an ingrown toenail is identifiable by experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Pain upon applying pressure to the affected toe.
  • Firm, tender, or swollen skin adjacent to the nail.
  • Redness around the affected area.
  • Bleeding.
  • Overgrowth of skin onto the toenail.
  • Formation of a pus-filled blister or significant discharge from the toe.
  • Thickened, cracked, and yellowish toenails are indicative of a fungal infection.

What are the causes of an ingrown toenail?

There are several potential causes of toenail infections, including:

  • Incorrect toenail trimming, either cutting them too short or allowing them to grow excessively long.
  • Sustaining an injury to the toenail.
  • Inheriting a genetic predisposition for curved toenails.
  • Wearing footwear that is too narrow, tight, or exerts excessive pressure on the toes.
  • Trimming toenails at the edges instead of straight across.
  • Engaging in activities such as soccer, skiing, or dancing.
  • Failing to maintain proper hygiene by keeping toes dry and clean.
  • Inheriting a susceptibility to ingrown toenails from one or both parents.
  • Receiving pedicures from nail technicians who trim toenails excessively.

Is an Epsom salt solution for an infected toe effective?

Soaking your ingrown toenail in an Epsom salt solution can alleviate the discomfort and pressure associated with an infection. Additionally, it aids in the extraction of pus from the affected area. It will penetrate the skin, aiding in the softening and dissolution of the nail portions that have become embedded in the skin. Ensure to keep your feet dry unless you’re soaking them specifically for treatment purposes.

How do you make an ingrown toenail Epsom salt soak?

To create an Epsom salt solution, mix 1-2 tablespoons of unscented Epsom salts into one quart of warm water. Submerge your foot in this solution and soak for about 15 minutes at a time. Repeat this process several times a day during the initial days of treatment. After soaking, ensure to thoroughly dry your feet.

Other methods to try at home

Here are some additional tips for managing an ingrown toenail and promoting healing:

  • Maintain Dry Feet: Except when actively treating your ingrown toenail, ensure your feet remain dry. Moisture can exacerbate the problem.
  • Gently Adjust Skin: Use a blunt, small nail file to carefully push back the skin from around the ingrown toenail. This helps to create space between the nail and the skin. Insert a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the lifted skin to keep it away from the nail.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Opt for comfortable shoes that provide ample space for your toes. Tight or narrow shoes can aggravate ingrown toenails.
  • Apply Antibiotic Ointment: Regularly apply antibiotic ointment to the affected area to prevent infection and promote healing.
  • Manage Pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate the discomfort associated with an infected toenail.
  • Address Fungal Infections: If you suspect a fungal infection, consider using antifungal cream. You can purchase this over-the-counter or consult with a healthcare professional for a prescription.

When should you see a doctor?

While many home remedies can help treat an infected toe, it’s crucial to recognize when professional medical assistance is necessary. Contact your doctor or a podiatrist if:

  • Symptoms Persist: If you observe persistent redness, swelling, and/or drainage from your toe, it’s advisable to seek medical advice.
  • Suspected Fungal Infection: If you suspect a fungal infection and over-the-counter treatments have proven ineffective, consulting a healthcare provider is recommended.
  • Diabetic Concerns: Individuals with diabetes and an infected or ingrown toenail should promptly seek medical attention to prevent complications.
  • Symptoms Worsen or Recur: If symptoms of toenail infection persist, worsen over time, or keep recurring despite home treatments, professional evaluation is warranted.

Immediate medical attention should be sought if you experience a fever along with red streaks on the skin extending from the infected toe area. These symptoms suggest a severe infection that requires urgent treatment.

How do you prevent ingrown toenails?

If you’re frequently dealing with ingrown toenails, adopting preventive measures can help avoid their recurrence. Consider the following tips:

  • Proper Nail Trimming: Avoid cutting your nails excessively short or unevenly. Trim them straight across rather than rounding the edges to minimize the risk of ingrowth.
  • Appropriate Footwear: Ensure your shoes and socks fit properly. If your toes feel cramped or restricted, opt for roomier footwear to allow for comfortable toe movement. Tight shoes can contribute to ingrown toenails.
  • Foot Protection: Shield your toes from potential trauma, especially during sports or activities that put stress on your feet. Wearing protective footwear or toe caps can help prevent injuries and subsequent ingrown toenails.
  • Maintain Hygiene: Keep your toes dry and clean to prevent bacterial or fungal growth, which can exacerbate ingrown toenails. Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing or any activity that causes sweating.
  • Use the Right Tools: Utilize toenail clippers instead of fingernail clippers for cutting toenails. If you have thick toenails, consider using toenail nippers, which are spring-loaded tools designed specifically for trimming toenails. These tools provide better control and precision while reducing the risk of ingrown nails.

Manage Your Infected Ingrown Toenail with Epsom Salt Solution

Dealing with an infected toenail may disrupt your daily routine, but it doesn’t need to be a hindrance. Giving yourself the right tools for treating an injured toe and knowing when to get professional help can help you quickly get back to doing the things you love. If you’re worried about a toe infection, you should make an appointment with a doctor right away instead of trying to deal with the painful symptoms on your own at home.

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