Friday, April 20, 2007

Ingrown nails

If you have an ingrown nail, you know how it feels. The problem occurs when a nail, usually on the big toe, grows or is pushed into the soft tissue alongside it. Though your long term goal is to prevent a return engagement, your immediate aim is to soothe the pain. Here is how to accomplish both.

Try an over the counter products
There are variety of nonprescription over the counter products that may soften the nail and the skin around it, thereby relieving pain. Get one and just follow the directions. However, do not use them if you have diabetes or impaired circulation.

Get a wisp of relief
Your mission is to help that embedded toenail grow out over the skin folds at its side. Start by soaking your foot in warm water to soften the nail. Dry carefully, then gently insert a wisp (not a wad) of sterile cotton beneath the burrowing edge of the nail. The cotton will slightly lift the nail so it can grow past the tissue it is digging into. Apply an antiseptic as a safeguard against infection. Change the cotton insert daily until the nail has grown past the trouble spot.

No v-shaped, please
Do not cut a v-shaped wedge out of the center of the nail. People think that an ingrown nail is too big and that if you take a wedge from the middle, the sides will grow toward the center and away from the ingrown edge. That is utter nonsense. All nails grow from back to front only.

Let your toes breathe
Ill fitting footwear can cause an ingrown nail, especially if your nails tend to curve. So, avoid pointed or tight shoes that press on toenails. Opt for sandals where appropriate or wide toed shoes. Likewise, stay away from tight socks and panty hose.

Cut nails correctly
Never cut your nail too short. Soften them in warm water to reduce possible splitting, then cut straight across with a substantial, sharp, straight edged clipper. Always leave the outside edges parallel to the skin. Do not trim the nail any deeper than the tip of the toe. You need it long enough to protect the toe from pressure and friction.

Fix mistakes
If you accidentally cut or break a nail too short, carefully smooth it at the edges so that no sharp points are left to penetrate the skin.

If your toe becomes infected, see a physician. To reduce inflammation until your appointment, periodically soak your foot in an iodine solution then apply an antibiotic cream.

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