2. Depending on how painful the nail is there are various methods to try and “lift” the nail up away from the tender tissue to see if relieving the pressure will help the nail grow straighter.
• Insert a small piece of cotton or dental floss under the edge of the nail to lift it away from the skin fold. Change this cotton daily to avoid developing an infection from drainage coming from the inflamed area.
• Gutter splint: Cut a small piece of a new plastic hollow coffee stirrer straw and slit one side using scissors that have been cleaned first with alcohol. Slip the edge under the nail between the nail and the skin fold. Secure with medical tape.
• Apply an artificial nail: Sometimes applying an artificial nail to an ingrown nail will help pull the sharp area upward and force the nail to grow straighter.
3. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin after each soaking and bandage the toe.
4. If within the next week, between the soaking and the “lifting,” the toe inflammation does not improve, see a podiatrist. An infection may be brewing and you may need oral antibiotics and/or the offending part of the nail may need to be removed. The entire nail will not need to be removed unless healing doesn’t progress with partial removal.
It is estimated that 20 percent of all podiatric visits are due to ingrown toenails. People with certain health conditions are especially at risk due to excess foot swelling such as those with diabetes, cardiac disease, kidney disease or obesity. Healing may also be impaired in those conditions making those ingrown toenails more susceptible to infection. We can’t avoid unexpected occurrences like my friend had with the heavy law book, but practicing some prevention may help avoid the misery of an ingrown toenail.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at http://www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles