If you trim your toenails too short, particularly on the sides of your big toes, you may set the stage for an ingrown toenail, which is a common disorder. Trimming your toenails tapered at the corners so that the nail curves with the shape of the toe can encourage the toenail to grow into the skin of his toe. The sides of the nail curl down and dig into the skin. An ingrown toenail may also happen if you wear shoes that are too tight or too short, causing the nail to be pressed into the skin - then the skin swells over the edge of the nail.
An ingrown toenail may be hard, swollen and tender. Later, it may get red and infected, and feel very sore. You may see pus drain from it. Finally, the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail.
To cure an infected ingrown toenail, you can apply a moisturizing cream to the nail edge and cover it with a band-aid. This softens the hard skin and often provides temporary pain relief. Elevating the foot also helps to reduce the swelling. Then soak your foot in warm, soapy water several times each day. Adding a touch of salt will help to kill bacteria. The soaking may soften up the skin and nail enough to allow it to be clipped back at a slight angle. If this doesn't provide quick relief, you may need to gently lift the edge of the ingrown toenail from its embedded position and insert some cotton or waxed dental floss between the nail and the skin. Change this packing every day. Afterwards, dry the foot and apply a dab of Neosporin Antibiotic Ointment to the problem area. Or, you can apply a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil. Lavender Essential Oil is a wonderful natural antibiotic which also helps relieve pain, and you can apply this oil directly. Or, you can use Oregano Essential Oil. It is antiseptic, antibacterial, and analgesic (relieves pain). Use only two drops per teaspoon of Olive Carrier Oil. More is not better with oregano oil, and use this oil for no more than three weeks.
Warning: Do not use oregano essential oil during pregnancy or on children under 5. Oil of oregano may reduce the absorption of iron, so take the oil at least two hours before or after consuming iron supplements. Do not use near eyes or mucous membranes. This is not the oregano you find in the grocery store. Pure essential oils are not for cooking, and very few can be taken internally. Any oil of oregano which might be safe enough to be taken internally is not pure but will be already diluted in a carrier oil.
Wear loose-fitting shoes or sandals until the nail heals. In many cases, an ingrown toenail will improve a few days after you start taking these steps.
If it has become really infected, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics. If you have diabetes, your toe should be treated by a doctor and not you.
You can lower your risk of developing an ingrown toenail by trimming your toenails straight across with no rounded corners. The length of the toenail should extend out past the skin. The top of each nail should form a straight line across, level with the top of the toe.