I have seen friends and random girls suffered with this foot ingrown couple of times already. I also had a college classmate who eventually went through an operation to get rid of her toenails ingrown! I then realized how serious this thing can get when it started bothering you.
Although most foot care experts say that clipping toe nails straight across helps prevent in grown toenails, you may still fall victim to one anyway: it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it can happen to anyone. Shoes that don’t fit right can cause an ingrown nail, as can just being on your feet or walking a lot. If a nail is becoming ingrown, you’ll first notice that it’s feeling tender where the nail is pushing into the side of your skin. You may find yourself favoring that foot, or pressing your toe against the inside of your shoes.
If you don’t catch it soon enough, the toe will become inflamed where the nail is digging into the soft skin of your toe. People who ignore their ingrown toenails end up having surgery, because things can get infected pretty fast. I saw a picture of a neglected toenail once, and I’ll never get the image out of my head.
If you think you’re getting an ingrown toenail, soak your foot in hot water, and even add some lavender or tea tree oil to help soften the skin further. After you’ve given it a good soak, say twenty or thirty minutes, see if you can pull the embedded nail up on the corner, lifting it away from the skin. You can use a nail file for this delicate operation, just barely, slowly sliding it under the edge of the nail. Be careful that your hand doesn’t slip –the pain will be enormous. (I probably don’t have to tell you to be gentle –the agony in your toe will make you ever so careful!)
Sometimes it takes more than one soaking to get the nail soft enough to lift from the skin. Especially if you have thin, sharp nails, they are more likely to bite into the sides of the toe. If you don’t succeed the first time, dry off your poor foot, dab on lavender or tea tree oil (they both have antiseptic and antibiotic properties) or some Neosporin, and try again tomorrow. In the mean time, stay off your foot as much as possible, and when you put your shoes on in the morning, first wrap your toe with a thick, soft bandage to cushion it.
A newly ingrown toenail will usually concede de-feet (har-har) after three or four days of gently soaking and cautious prying. Once the nail lifts past the skin, trim the nail with a small pair of scissors, and if your toe’s not too sore, file it smooth. Now you will have a tender, pink channel in your toe where the nail once pressed. Keep it bandaged and clean. To prevent infection, apply antibiotics after bathing until your toe doesn’t hurt anymore.
If the toenail is stubborn and you can’t get it out after several tries, hobble off to the doctor, who will put it to rights for you.
Ingrown toenails are like ear infections: some people go their whole lives without having a single toenail upset, and others are plagued by then. Once you get one, it’s more likely to recur, so make sure you treat your feet nicely, buy good shoes that fit right, and pay attention to any toe pain that arises.