Why Home Remedies For Ingrown Nails Don’t Work – And What Does

July 10, 2022

We were recently having a conversation with a patient who was advised that soaking her foot in Epsom salts would fix her ingrown toenail. While it helped her get some temporary relief from the pain, the pain kept returning every time – until three months had passed and her ingrown nail pain was worse than ever. This is when she decided to seek help, and was able to get permanent relief from her ingrown nail pain in one appointment. This example is one of many that we see where home remedies have been suggested without explaining that most of the time, they only offer temporary relief – much like taking a painkiller. Then there are a bunch of others we’ve heard, like cutting a V in the top of the nail, which simply don’t work at all. Here’s a look into the truth (and biology) behind ingrown toenails and their recurrence.

Had Repeated Ingrown Nails? They’re Likely To Keep Coming Back

The first thing to note is that if you’ve suffered from the terrible pains of ingrown toenails more than once, the reality is that you’re almost definitely going to suffer from them again. One-off ingrown toenails absolutely do occur, but the cause is usually a particular pair of tight shoes that push the nail into the skin and they don’t tend to occur again after you’ve stopped wearing them. Repetitive ingrown toenails are the best indicator that there’s something more going on, like your nail cutting technique, or that the nail has now started growing in an abnormal way that ends up penetrating the skin, and that it’s going to continue to happen unless you get professional help.

Why We Don’t Recommend Treating Ingrown Nails At Home

Without knowing exactly what you’re doing when it comes to ingrown nail care, you could be encouraging the nail to continue to become ingrown, and it may leave you in much more pain than when you started. Take the way your nail is cut, for example. If you think that cutting down into the corner and removing the piece of nail will discourage it from growing there again – the reality is the exact opposite. Curving down and removing that painful nail edge will likely encourage the nail to keep curving and growing down – unless you know what you’re doing and understand the characteristics of nail growth.

Even Antibiotics Don’t Fix Ingrown Toenails

To better illustrate how deep the misconceptions about ingrown toenails go, many people take antibiotics for their ingrown toenails, without realising that antibiotics don’t remove the sharp nail spicule from the surrounding skin – they just help fight against any infection present, thereby reducing inflammation and pain. The nail is still left in the skin, and your pain will continue to come back until it’s removed. This is why antibiotics must be used hand-in-hand with a treatment that fixes ingrown nails.

How To Fix Ingrown Nails For Good

Fixing ingrown nails means removing the part of the nail that has penetrated the surrounding skin and is serving as a sharp splinter down the side of the toenail. To fix them for good means preventing the problematic edge of the nail from returning and growing back. We do this using a procedure called a partial nail avulsion (PNA). It involves removing a small part of the nail (the part that causes you pain!) and applying a chemical that will stop that small portion of the nail from growing back and continuing to cause you grief, over and over again.

Our patients love this procedure because:

  • It’s done simply and effectively in-clinic
  • It’s completed in 60 minutes (with the procedure time typically around 20 minutes)
  • It’s performed under local anaesthetic so is pain-free
  • You do not need to take any additional time off work or school following the procedure and can go home immediately
  • You don’t need any special boots or braces while the toe heals
  • The procedure causes very little post-procedure discomfort
  • We dress your toe, provide you with a take-home dressing pack and re-dressing instructions
  • We monitor your progress to ensure it’s healing well
While we perform conservative one-off care for first-time ingrown toenails or those with a definitive cause that is not likely to recur, the PNA is our best recommendation for those that are repetitively putting up with and suffering from ingrown toenails. We have great success with the procedure and have prevented hundreds of patients from continuing to regularly suffer. Our team are experts when it comes to ingrown toenails and we love seeing the difference that having this procedure makes in the lives of our patients. For more information about the PNA procedure, click here. To book an appointment, you can give us a call on 09 523 2333 or book online.