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Steps to treat ingrown nails

A slightly wedged toenail can be treated by trying to lift the corner of the nail that is stuck, inserting a piece of cotton or gauze between the nail and the skin so that the toenail can unstick itself from the skin, which will release the toenail.

However, when the area around the nail becomes very red, swollen and with pus, the problem may require the use of a prescribed antibiotic ointments by the physician, such as Neosporin, Polysporin, and Bactroban

A pedicure or podiatrist may release the toenail by cutting the edges of the ingrown toenail with a scalpel, fine straight-edge scissors or pliers themselves, but in some cases a minor surgery may be needed for the toenail to be released.

Steps to treat ingrown nails

Home treatment for ingrown toenail

To treat a slightly ingrown and inflamed toenail at home, it is recommended:

  1. Leave the foot or hand that has the nail wedged in a bowl with warm or hot water for about 20 minutes;
  2. Try to lift the corner of the nail that is wedged and put dental floss, cotton swab or gauze between the nail and the skin to keep it raised, changing daily after putting your finger in hot water for 20 minutes. This procedure is ideal for when the nail is slightly wedged and there isn't inflammation yet;
  3. Pass some antiseptic and healing solution such as Povidine, for example, to aid in healing and prevent the region from becoming infected.

If necessary, to relieve pain when trying to lift the ingrown and inflamed nail, an anesthetic ointment such as lidocaine may be given. After placing the cotton or gauze, if you continues with pain, you can take an analgesic and anti-inflammatory remedy like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, for example.

If the nail is very ingrown, inflamed or with pus and it is not possible to walk normally, nor to loosen the nail off the skin, you should look for a podologist, nurse or dermatologist to release the nail. 

What not to do

If you have a wedged nail, the part that is wedged should not be cut; you should not do a "v" cut form or put a tight bandage. These measures only worsen the ingrown toenail and increase the risk of the nail becoming ingrown again.

A unha do dedão é que geralmente encrava
A unha do dedão é que geralmente encrava

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended you go to the dermatologist when any of the following situations exist:

  • Diabetes;
  • If the nail is very ingrown, inflamed, with pus and it is not possible to touch the nail;
  • If the finger is very swollen or if the circulation appears to be stuck.

It is also indicated to seek professional help if there are lesions in the affected region or signs of poor blood circulation.

How to treat ingrown nail with pus

The pus-embedded nail should be seen by a dermatologist because in these cases it is usually necessary to use antibiotic ointments to put on the nail and treat the infection before cutting the nail.

Even with the use of antibiotic ointment, nail treatment with pus usually involves lifting the nail and putting on some cotton or gauze, but some doctors may prefer to cut the nail corners by removing the nail bits that have imbedded in the skin.

When is surgery necessary

Ingrown nail surgery is indicated in cases where ingrown nails are frequent and elevating the nail or cutting doesn't resolve the problem, especially if there is spongy tissue in the area. In this case surgery is done under local anesthesia and, in most cases, it is not necessary to remove the entire nail. Depending on the nail that needs treatment, the doctor may choose to apply an acid, such as silver nitrate, which destroys part of the nail that was stuck, for example.

How to avoid ingrown nails

To prevent ingrown nails, they should be cut straight on both the top and the sides of the nail. In addition, you should also avoid wearing very tight shoes and change your socks daily as this prevents the proliferation of microorganisms.

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