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How to Get Rid of Ingrown Fingernails

How to Get Rid of Ingrown Fingernails

Those who suffer from this condition called ingrown fingernails only know, how uncomfortable and sometimes how painful it is to live with these ingrown fingernails! But what is ingrown fingernail at the first place? Ingrown fingernail is medically known as Onychocryptosis. It is there when the edge of one or more of your fingernails grow into the skin surrounding it. Such an ingrown nail curves down into the surrounding skin of the nail as it grows. This causes the skin to grow over the nail and thus it is called ingrown fingernail. While any of your fingernails can become ingrown, the toenails and particularly the big toe nail, are more susceptible to this condition.

What are the Causes of Ingrown Fingernails

The most general cause of ingrown fingernail is the improper trimming of the nail. However, there may be many other causes.

  1. Ill-fitting shoes can cause ingrown toenail.
  2. Cutting nails incorrectly, as mentioned earlier, is the most common cause of ingrown nail.
  3. Injury to your nail or the skin around it may also lead to an ingrown nail.
  4. Sometimes heredity too plays a role in giving you ingrown nails.
  5. If you naturally have too large nails that curve naturally again, you are at an increased risk of having ingrown finger nails.

Whatever may be the cause for your ingrown fingernail, it may become infected if you leave it untreated.

Home Remedies to get rid of Ingrown Fingernail

If you notice redness, swelling and feel pain around your toenail or any other finger nail, check for an ingrown nail. These are the symptoms of ingrown finger nail. Sometimes there is pus drainage too that may indicate infection in that area. If so, you should immediately consult doctor. If there is still no infection, you can rely on the home treatment for ingrown fingernail. These include taking proper care of nails and using certain home remedies to get rid of ingrown fingernails as well as their symptoms.

Soak Ingrown Fingernail in Warm Water

Nothing soothes an inflamed area of your skin like warm water does. You don’t need anything else, just some warm water. Soak your finger in this warm water. Keep in mind the following tips.
Get this:

  • Warm water
  • Towel

Do this:

  • Take some warm water, enough to soak your affected finger or toe, in a bowl.
  • Soak your finger with ingrown nail in this water.
  • Let it soak for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Now, take out your hand or foot and properly dry it with the towel.
  • Remember, other than when you soak your fingers in warm water, they should remain dry. Keeping your fingers wet or even moist may lead to growth of bacteria or fungi and give you infection.
  • Repeat the soaking procedure 3-4 times a day.

Once your nail and surrounding skin becomes soft after soaking, you can clip off the ingrown nail but do this only if you are able to see the thing clearly and easily. Do not aggravate the problem by pushing it deep into the skin while trying to clip it off.

Use Cotton Ball to Lift the Ingrown Nail

Our fingernails grow, on an average, 2-3 mm every month. While they are growing, if you can give them the proper direction, they might not grow into your skin surrounding the nail. You may take help of a humble cotton ball for this.
Get this:

  • Cotton ball or a small piece of cotton
  • Tweezers (optional)

Do this:

  • Take the cotton piece and wedge it under the edge of your nail where there is an ingrown nail. You may take help of the tweezers, if needed. Do not, however, push too hard.
  • This should be preferably done just after you have soaked your fingers in warm water (see the previous remedy).
  • Just after soaking, both your nail and the surrounding skin are soft and flexible. Thus it would not give you pain or create much problem in lifting the nail as compared to then when your skin is rigid due to being dry.
  • This act will lift away the ingrown nail and will enable it to grow against your skin and not into it.
  • Keep doing this for few days till you get satisfied that now your nail is not in growing.
  • Don’t let the cotton there for several hours and never for more than a day (in extreme cases though this is also not acceptable). This gives rise to chances of nail getting infected easily.

Soak in Vinegar Water Solution to Treat Ingrown Fingernail

Vinegar is a very good home remedy for any type of infection. So, if you have a doubt that your ingrown nail is becoming infected or may now get infected, use vinegar or even apple cider vinegar to treat it.
Get this:

  • Vinegar- 1 part
  • Water- 4 parts

Do this:

  • Add vinegar to the water.
  • Soak your feet or hand where you have ingrown nail.
  • Let it be in this solution for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Take out the hand or feet and dry it out properly.
  • Repeat twice or thrice a day.

Epsom Salt Soak for Ingrown Fingernail Treatment
If you are unable to bear the pain and tenderness in your finger or toe due to ingrown nail, Epsom salt can come to your help. It can effectively reduce pain, tenderness and even infection of an ingrown toenail.
Get this:

  • Epsom salt- 2-4 tablespoon (2 tbsp for each quart of water)
  • Water, preferably warm – 1-2 quarts (1 quart is about 4 cups)

Do this:


  • Add Epsom salt to water.
  • Soak your hand or feet in this water for about 20-25 minutes.
  • Dry out properly with towel.
  • Repeat 2-4 times a day.

Use Lemon to Prevent Infection of Ingrown Fingernail

The acid present in lemon is a known ingredient that can fight off infections. So, if you have nothing at hand, go to your kitchen and cut a slice or a thin wedge out of a lemon to treat your ingrown fingernail.
Get this:

  • Lemon- 1 thing wedge
  • Bandage

Do this:

  • Take the wedge of lemon and place it over your ingrown nail.
  • Now take the bandage and wrap it around the lemon slice securing it with your toe. You may also use a bandaid to hold the lemon slice in place.
  • Leave it overnight.
  • Not only the nail would not dig into your skin, it will also prevent any infection.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Ingrown Nail

Hydrogen peroxide is natural and is an excellent disinfectant. It is nothing but water (H2O) with an extra oxygen molecule (H2O2). It is a natural component that can be found in trace amounts in rain and snow. What more, even our own immune system creates and uses hydrogen peroxide to regulate and control bacteria as well as viruses. Medically, it is used as topical disinfectant. However, you must use it with extreme care as it is toxic and fatal when swallowed in full strength. Always use 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide after diluting it in water. It is safe to use as a 3% solution which can be made by mixing 1 ounce of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide with 11 ounces of water. 1 ounce is about 6 teaspoons or two tablespoons. For ingrown fingernails, you can make an excellent soak using hydrogen peroxide.
Get this:

  • Hydrogen peroxide- 1 cup
  • Water- ½ bucket

Do this:

  • Add hydrogen peroxide to the water.
  • Soak your hand or foot in this water for about 15-20 minutes.
  • It will not only make the skin around your ingrown nail soft but will also relieve pain and infection if any.
  • Dry out properly after soaking.

Tea Tree Oil to Treat Ingrown Fingernail

Essential oils like tea tree oil do wonders for such conditions where there is high probability of infection. This is due to the antibacterial and an anti-fungal properties of this oil that it provides you much wanted relief.

Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil for Ingrown Nails

  1. Add 2-4 drops of tea tree oil in warm water. Now soak your hands or feet in this water for 15-20 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times a day. Don’t forget to dry out your fingers after the soak.
  2. Take 2-4 drops of tea tree oil and add this to 1 tbsp of olive oil. Massage your finger gently with this oil at the site of ingrown nail. After the oil gets absorbed in your skin, you will see how the skin becomes soft to give you relief.

[Also Read: 15 DIY Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus]

Baby Oil for Ingrown Fingernail

Baby oil makes your skin soft, really soft. This is what you need when you want to get rid of ingrown nail. Try baby oil or simple mineral oil to make the skin around your ingrown nail soft so that you may clip off the paining nail easily.
Get this:

  • Baby oil or mineral oil
  • Nail clippers

Do this:

  • Take some oil and massage into your finger at the site of ingrown nail.
  • When you feet that the skin has become sufficient soft, Use the clippers to clip off the nail.
  • Do this only if you are able to see the nail clearly and easily.
  • If not, keep on massaging this oil and follow other remedies so that your ingrown nail become soft over days.
  • You may clip off the ingrown nail one fine day when it is soft enough and is easily approachable.

Castor Oil to Treat Ingrown Finger Nail

Castor oil has many benefits for our body. It is good for alleviating muscle tension, spasms and cramps. When you apply or massage with warm castor oil, it increases circulation to that area relaxing the muscles while toxicity and congestion disperse. It also softens the site very well. Try this remedy with Castor oil and baking soda to see if it also works for you and give you relief from ingrown nail
Get this:

  • Castor oil
  • Baking soda
  • Bandaid or bandage

Do this:

  • Take some baking soda and add enough castor oil to it to get a gum like paste.
  • Apply this mixture on your finger with ingrown nail.
  • Cover this with bandaid.
  • Remove it after few hours.
  • If, however, you feel irritation, you must stop using it.
  • If everything is all right, do this daily to get rid of your ingrown finger nail.

Make Essential Oils Blend for Treating Ingrown Finger Nail

Essential oils may bring relief to your ingrown nail ridden painful finger. There are many essential oils that not only have pain relieving properties but are antiseptic and disinfectant too. Mixing these oils or applying them without mixing can bring some relief to the symptoms of ingrown nails that give you discomfort. Here are some essential oils and their properties that can be useful in treating ingrown finger nail at home.

  1. Melaleuca oil- It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
  2. Clove oil- It has pain relieving, disinfecting, numbing properties and is extensively used to cure skin infections.
  3. Lavender oil- It has soothing properties that relieve skin irritation.
  4. Rosemary oil- It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties.
  5. Tea tree oil- It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Get this:

  • One or some or all the oils listed above- 1 drop each

Do this:

  • If using only one oil, take 1 drop of it and apply this to your ingrown nail. You may also dilute it with some olive oil and then apply this to your ingrown finger nail.
  • If using more than one oil, mix 1 drop of each oil and apply it to your ingrown nail.
  • You may wrap a bandage after applying the oil blend.
  • Repeat 2-4 times daily as required.
  • Within 2-4 days, you should get relief from pain, swelling and redness around your ingrown nail.
  • If within such time, you do not get any relief, consult your doctor.

Potassium Permanganate Soak for Ingrown Finger Nail

Potassium permanganate is a natural disinfectant. It is actually a salt compound (KMn04) used to oxidize water and sanitize food. It acts as an antiseptic when used for ingrown nails. In fact, dilute solutions of potassium permanganate are used to treat canker sores, ulcers and fungal infections of hand and feet like Athletes Feet.
Get this:

  • Potassium Permanganate- ¼ tsp or less (exactly you need about only 1.5 grams)
  • Water- 1 gallon (about 4 litres or 16 cups)

Do this:

Warning: Be aware that the color of your feet or hand may turn brown for several weeks. However, eventually the color will go.

Precautions for Handling Ingrown Fingernail

  1. If you have an ingrown toenail and also have diabetes, it is better not to follow any home treatment for ingrown fingernails as your foot needs proper care and treatment. Go to the doctor for proper treatment of your toenail.
  2. The same is true for people who suffer from other feet diseases or poor circulation in feet. Go to doctor instead of treating ingrown fingernail at home.
  3. After resorting to home treatment of ingrown fingernail, if you do not see any positive sign of improvement, go to the doctor even if you can’t see any visible sign of infection. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of ingrown fingernail and those of infection as both have striking similarities like redness and swelling.

How to Cut and Trim Nails Properly to Prevent Ingrown Fingernail

  1. Always keep your fingernails trimmed straight across. Don’t try to keep them curved.
  2. Always keep your nails clean. Poor hygiene is one of the causes of ingrown fingernails.
  3. While cutting your nails straight across, don’t cut them too short.
  4. If you see sharp edges, file them lightly and with care. Do not file hard or much deeper into your nails.
  5. Don’t try to round your nails. Nails that are rounded off have more chances to grow into the skin leading to ingrown nails.
  6. Never rip off or tear off the tips of your nails. This might lead your nail edge to grow into the skin.
  7. It is better to use nail clippers rather than scissors to cut your nails.

How to Take Care of Hands and Feet to Prevent Ingrown Fingernails

  1. To prevent ingrown toenail, wear better-fitting shoes. Too tight shoes give you ingrown toenail.
  2. Try to reduce pressure on your toe by wearing sandals or open toe shoes so that your toe and other finger get enough space to move.
  3. Do not trim the corner of your nails unless you are able to see them easily.

Always take proper care and maintain hygiene as mentioned above in the article so that you do not develop ingrown finger nail.


Tips to Get Rid of Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are what bother many people. While ingrown fingernails are painful and all, it is really pathetic to have an ingrown toenail. After all, you need to wear your shoes all day long and an ingrown toenail can really hurt you very badly in that compact space inside your shoes! This is also the place where your ingrown toenail can become infected easily. If your toenail has already caught infection, you need to see a podiatrist and don’t need to treat at home. This can be risky. However, if it is yet not infected, you can follow the tips below to get rid of your painful and irritating ingrown toenail.

1. Soak your foot in warm salt water

Yes, this is the first and the basic thing that you should do. Take some warm water in a foot basin and add a tsp of salt. Soak your foot in this for about 15-20 minutes. Do this at least 3-4 times a day. You will find it quite relaxing apart from getting rid of pain and swelling of your toe. Don’t forget to dry your foot completely every time. Moist feet are a breeding ground of bacteria and fungus.

2. Make soaking water more effective by adding natural healers

While salt in the warm soaking water is enough to give you relief, you can always make it more effective by adding certain natural ingredients like vinegar, Epsom salt, lemon juice or some essential oils such as tea tree or lavender oil. The various antiseptic, antibacterial and disinfectant properties of these natural ingredients will not only prevent infection but will also help in healing your ingrown toenail faster.

3. Lift the nail to give it direction

Your toenail is hurting you because it is growing in the wrong direction, into the skin. It should grow against the skin. You can help it a little. How is the question. When you are done with soaking of foot and when the surrounding skin of your toenail is still soft, lift this skin a little either using your hand or a blunt device like a nail file. Take care not to hurt yourself. Never try it when your skin is rough and dry. Do it only after soaking foot. This may ‘inspire’ the nail to grow against the skin! And it will be better if you keep the nail in this lifted position for some time. The next step tells you about how to do this.

4. Stuff a piece of cotton or cloth to separate skin and ingrown toenail

Once you have lifted the nail against your skin, push a little piece of cotton in between the skin and the lifted toenail. This will keep the nail against the skin and prevent it from coming in contact with it. However, don’t forget to treat this piece of cotton with some antiseptic lotion. You may use the all natural tea tree oil for the purpose.

5. Cover the ingrown toenail with bandage

Now when you have stuffed the cotton piece, it has the risk of sliding away from the toenail. To secure it, use a bandage or a band-aid. Wrap it around your toe in a manner that holds the piece in between the skin and the toenail.

6. Wear comfortable shoes to let the toenail heal

Yes, you always need to wear comfortable shoes and not only when you suffer from an ingrown toenail. In fact, too tight shoes are one of the main causes of ingrown toenail. The nail doesn’t find enough space inside the shoe to grow properly in the right direction. It also becomes essential to wear such comfortable shoes because you had padded your toe with cotton piece and bandage. If possible, wear an open sandal or at least a loose shoe. Try to avoid wearing shoes or even socks when you are at home.

7. Remove the cotton piece frequently from the site of ingrown toenail

It is risky to keep the moist cotton for long in between your toenail and skin. It may give rise to some infection. So, remove it frequently. If possible change it after every 2-3 hours. If not, then at least change it 2-3 times a day.

8. Cut your toenail properly

Always trim your toenail properly. So, what’s the proper shape of a toe nail that won’t give you ingrown nail! It is straight. Yes, you should always cut the nail perfectly straight without any pointed parts close to its edges. If you round off your toenail, you are increasing the chances of causing an ingrown nail.

9. Use special toenail clippers to clip your toenails

As mentioned earlier, the rounded off or nails with sharp edges have higher chances to become an ingrown toenail, you may take extra care by using toenail clippers that are specially manufactured for the purpose. This becomes all the more essential if you have the tendency of getting ingrown toenail frequently. Ordinary clippers or scissors are small and sometimes not able to trim the toenails properly. They may leave sharp edges there.

10. Regularly cut your toenails to prevent ingrown nails

Regularly cut your toenail, once in every 2-3 weeks. The toenails grow slowly than the nails of your fingers that need to be clipped almost every week. However, some people tend to grow toenails faster. If you are one of them, clip your toenails as per need. The key is to not allowing the toenails grow to such lengths that they become ingrown. Cutting your toenails often will not give them chance to become ingrown.

11. Avoid salon treatments like pedicure when you have an ingrown toenail

Because the tools in a parlor or salon are used for everybody, they are at higher risks of giving infection to your toes. Your feet is already sensitive due to the ingrown toenails and pedicure can aggravate the problem underneath the nail. The instruments may be less than sanitary and may lead to some bacterial or fungal infection.

About Sara

Sara is a Boston-based registered dietitian who works with clients to improve their health by optimizing nutrition. You can find her running, sweating in hot yoga, cooking in the kitchen, dining out, or exploring. Eating Food-Mostly Plants, and improving our relationship with food, is the secret to lifelong health in her eyes.

3 comments

  1. Thanks for the Tips. Ingrown Fingernails is really uncomfortable.

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