Foot pain affects eight out of ten Americans. One in four says their foot pain makes it impossible to exercise. One of the most common causes of food pain is an ingrown toenail, which is caused when the sharp edge of your toenail begins to grow into the skin at the side of the toe.
Ingrown toenails can be caused from pressure on the toes and nails from closed toe shoes. Another cause is improper trimming. You should always cut your nails straight across, and not too short, rather than angling or rounding off the edge of the nail.
Other causes are fungal or bacterial infection, diabetes, genetic conditions, abnormality in the nail bed, or an injury (from something being dropped on the toe, or stubbing the toe). Redness in the area is often the first symptom, along with pain and eventually inflammation.
For people with an advanced or recurrent problem, there is a simple surgical fix. Your podiatrist can do an in-office procedure under local anesthetic, and it will solve the problem permanently. If you have diabetes or nerve damage in your foot, this is your best option. People with those conditions should not try to self treat.
Short of surgery, there are some good home remedies for ingrown toenails. Most of these involve a foot soak. You can use any of the following ingredients, mixed with water:
Epsom salt (about 1 tablespoon in a small tub of warm water)
Hydrogen peroxide (one-half cup in a small tub of warm water)
Apple cider vinegar (mixed half and half with water)
Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, from four times a week to twice daily, and dry feet well afterwards.
The following topical remedies help with infection and pain:
Vicks VapoRub – apply on the affected area to relieve pain and support healing
White Flower oil – this oil relieves pain and is used in traditional Chinese medicine
Oregano essential oil – this antibacterial and antiseptic oil is a strong skin irritant, so always dilute it in a carrier oil
Lemon – cut a thin slice of lemon and apply it to the affected toe with a bandage; leave on overnight.
Tumeric paste – mix half a teaspoon of tumeric powder with a few drops of mustard oil; apply to the affected area and cover with a bandage. Repeat two or three times daily for several days.
Another painful but useful home treatment is to separate and elevate the nail edge from the nail bed. After you soak your feet, gently lift the corner of the nail that is growing inward using blunt tweezers. Place a tiny piece of rolled gauze between the nail and the skin. Change the gauze daily. It can take up to two weeks for the nail to grow out and away from the nail bed.