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Home Remedies to Get Rid Of Ingrown Toenails (Onychocryptosis)

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Home Remedies to Get Rid Of Ingrown Toenails

 If you ever had one, you know how uncomfortable and painful ingrown toenails can be. This fairly common condition, medically referred to as onychocryptosis, can easily spiral out of control and sometimes requires surgical treatment. Rather than waiting for it to resolve by itself – which is not likely to happen – and letting it get worse or even infected, take some steps to deal with it. There are many things you can try in the comfort of your home to fix the sore ingrown toenail and in this article I’ll discuss the best home remedies to get rid of ingrown toenail.

Causes of Ingrown Toenails (Onychocryptosis)

The condition can develop on any of your toes or fingers, although it usually affects the big toe. Some people have nails that naturally curve and they are more susceptible to develop ingrown nails. Other major reasons behind nails growing into the surrounding skin include:


Ill-fitting shoes –Shoes that are tight and shoes with high heels put the toes under too much pressure and can make the nails grow the wrong way.

Improper trimming and cutting of the toes – Toes should be cut in a straight line and not made round. If nails are cut too short or the corners are rounded, they can dig into the skin.

Injury – Injury near the toenail can make it grow incorrectly. Depending on the type of injury, it can also cause the toenail to fall off.

Infections – Bacterial and fungal infections can change the skin tissue and thicken and widen the nail. If you suffer from toenail fungus then read my post about the best natural cures for toenail fungus.

Diabetes – If your ingrown nails are connected with a diabetic condition, you need to be extremely careful and seek professional help. Small cuts and grazes can lead to serious complications, so it’s necessary to check your toes daily and to see a podiatrist for your feet care. People with diabetes and vascular problems often have diminished sensation in their feet, and they might not notice an ingrown toenail for a while, so it is more likely to become infected, making the situation even worse.

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails

Unless you have problems with your sensation, it’s rare that you would miss the signs of an ingrown nail. The condition usually presents with the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the toenail area.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • If the toenail gets infected, you can see a discharge that is either yellow (pus) or watery and can have traces of blood.

Best Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenails

1. Soak your feet

Foot baths are a very important part of the treatment as they soften the nail and the surrounding skin and make other remedies more efficient. It’s important to:

  • Soak your feet regularly and for long enough – do your foot bath 2 to 4 times daily for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Use hot or warm water.

For best effects, add the following healing substances:

Epsom salt – Epsom salt softens the skin, which makes it easier to draw the toenail out. Add a heaped tablespoon of salt into the bowl of water and let your feet soak for 20 minutes. Repeat at least twice daily. You can get more information on how to use Epsom salt in this post.

Hydrogen Peroxide – Mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide in water and perform the foot bath for at least 20 minutes. Peroxide softens the skin, prevents infection and offers some relief from the unpleasant symptoms. There are also 11 amazing uses for hydrogen peroxide.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – Add a few tablespoons of raw ACV to your warm water and then soak your foot in the mixture. ACV can also be ingested to provide you with some of its benefits internally and help you fight off infection. As mentioned in many of my previous posts, it’s best to mix ACV with raw honey and warm water and drink the concoction every morning as it has amazing health benefits.


2. The cotton ball method

After you’ve soaked your feet, do the following:

  • Take a small piece of cotton or cotton ball and roll it between your fingers, so you get a small roll.
  • Carefully lift the nail and place the roll between the nail and the skin. This might be very painful, but it elevates the toenail and prevents it from growing in.
  • Leave the roll in until you do your next soak.
  • Change the roll after every soak and try to push it a bit further every time (without causing any damage).

3. Topical treatments for Ingrown Toenails

There are also substances you can apply directly to the affected area to help with the treatment and prevent infection. These include:

Apple cider vinegar – pour some raw ACV on a cotton ball and dab the affected area. Repeat several times a day.

Essential oils – Essential oils can help relieve pain and prevent infection. Put a few drops directly on your toe or mix it with a carrier oil. You can use:

Eucalyptus oil

Tea tree oil (there are extraordinary uses for tea tree oil)


Oregano oil – this essential oil needs to be mixed with a carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil) before application.

Lavender essential oil

White flower oil – This is actually not an oil of a white flower, but a mix of different herbal oils. It’s used to make the removal of the ingrown nail easier.

 4. Other home methods for ingrown toenails

There are other techniques you can try on your misbehaving toe:

Lemon slice – Cut a thin slice of lemon and secure it to the nail using a bandage or gauze. Leave it overnight. This treatment is particularly useful if you already have an infection as the lemon’s acidity will fight it.

Vicks VapoRub – This product aimed at colds and coughs can also offer some relief for your ingrown as it softens the nail so you can remove it the next day and it’s also an antiseptic which can clean out the infection. The menthol-based ointment can be applied directly on the nail and helps to heal it, as well as it eases the pain. Preferably put Vicks vapor rub on the toenail (try to get some of the rub underneath the toenail as well) and then a band aid overnight.

While you’re undertaking your home treatment, give your feet and toes a rest. It’s best to go barefoot or bare-toed for a few days and let the toe heal. Afterwards, wear comfortable shoes that give your toes enough space, and cut your toes straight to prevent another ingrown nail.

If the problem persists or you observe signs of infection, you need to see a doctor to avoid any complications.

Related articles:
1. Black Toenail: Causes, Prevention, and Effective Treatments
2. Simple and Effective Natural Cures for Toenail Fungus
3. 11 Health Warnings Your Fingernails May Be Sending
4. Yellow Toenails and Fingernails – Causes and Effective treatments

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26 Responses to Home Remedies to Get Rid Of Ingrown Toenails (Onychocryptosis)

  1. Annie says:

    i had this problem on both my big toes, very nasty indeed. Since i clean my foot carefully during each bath, im guessing that it occurred naturally and wasn’t caused by infection or anything like that. i treated it by cutting my toenails more often (i cut them round though) It was painful to cut the ingrown nails at first, there was pus but after a couple of times of cutting and applying antibacterial cream (dettol) i finally got rid of them and i’m happy now that it hasn’t recur since then 🙂

  2. brave says:


    there is only one way to do it. Dig it out.
    use a pointed tool, jam it to the side of the toe nail, push it to the side laterally, AND LIFT.

    Takes only one second. and then cut it off normally

    • adriana says:

      thats exactly what i do- not always easy and if it doesnt work 1st or 2nd time can be a nightmare so make sure I get it!

  3. ana says:

    use salactol or gehwol fluid,i was having this problem over 10 years,and only this solution helped me,good luck

    • Castro says:

      Reallyy.. … I had this problem for 5years.i want to go to schoool daily with that pain. It this will cure me completely. . Even if i again wore shoes? plzzzzzzzz reply

  4. Maggy says:

    Both of my big toes are infection I got surgery on both of my toes but after 4 months it came back uhhhh I hate it it hurts soooo bad

  5. kari says:

    Try cutting a Very in the middle of the toenail. The nail grows inward toward the v…it worked for me.

  6. Phyllus lattimer says:

    None of this worked for me. Cutting a v nor cutting out ingrown toenail nor soaking. Nothing.

  7. Chinenye says:

    My daughter’s big toe nails are very small and thick, i mean tiny and hard. And some times it hurts and pains her. What do i do?

  8. Heather says:

    Use a fingernail file, file the top, not the end of the toe nail. Doing this the nail grows and repairs the top of the nail removing the pain pressure of the nail growing down in the toe, skin.

  9. Jessica says:

    I had ingrown nails since I was 10 sadly. They hurt REALLY bad!!!! I played a movie and put my feet in a bowl until the movie finished. I mixed the water hydrogen peroxide. Changed it when it got cold. Then I got the nail plier thing. I put one side under my nail slowly and carefully pullex up and to the side. Then QUICKLY cut it off before it started to sting. No pus or blood or water came. But it hurt for maybe the next 10 minutes but the pain was gone!

  10. jodie says:

    Where can you buy these different fluids for soaking your feet in?

    • Jenny says:

      You can buy hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salt in the drug store. Raw unprocessed ACV in some supermarkets or health food stores. Essential oils in drug stores or health food stores. Of course you can also buy online (such as Amazon).

  11. Karen Young says:

    I’ve had an ingrown toenail for years and it only hurt when I touched it, until last week. I use raw African shea butter for very dry, very white skin, and it works like magic. When my toe started hurting I read all the remedies, especially the one about shoving a piece of cotton under the nail; instead I shoved a big ole lump of shea butter under the nail. The next day it had quit hurting and the nail had actually unfurled somewhat and was not digging into the skin. Second night I did the same. Third day the nail was straight and flat enough to trim straight across. Three days later the nail is nearly back to looking like it should. The nail was actually curled under and left a deep groove in the skin. I recommend trying raw shea butter, $5 at any flea market. Better than forking out $50 for some kit, more to a podiatrist. The shea is a natural antiseptic too.

  12. Manny says:

    I have this but its right on the edge . And I cut the nail that was near it and now I have almost the whole left side of my toenail cut of but it still hurts

  13. Haze says:

    I have used coconut oil every morning and night and after 4 days the redness had gone down and there was no pain when I touched the large toenail. Massage into the nail area. Also if you have toenails that have become brittle and discoloured, then clip the nail back as far as you can, rub coconut oil in every morning and night, you will start to see a difference in the appearance of your toenails withing 24 hours. Let me know if anyone else has success like me with this method. No drugs to buy/take! Try it….

  14. Jessica says:

    My toe is in allot of pain and it hurts soooooo bad I don’t know what to do and digging it out makes it worse what do I do ? PLEASE HELP !

  15. Caitlyn says:

    I have a curved toenail that isn’t quite an ingrown nail, but it’s starting to become one and go towards going into the skin. It doesn’t hurt yet, it’s more annoying than anything else. I really hate the doctors office and surgery and I’m really scared of these things. I want to fix it before it fully becomes an ingrown nail. What do I do? I don’t get how to do the cotton thing.

    • Angelina says:

      I had my toenails problem pretty much all my life, when I was 15 i had them surgecly removed, however when it grew back it was just as bad….. Then my sister told me to do the cotton thing and I’ve bee doing that for the past almost 30 years. First and for most you need to let your nail grow out of the skin, always cut your nail straight and not round let your nail corner be visible and always keep it out of your skin, but while it growing you need to soak it in Epsom salt and very gently and careful place a piece of cotton in between your nail and your skin making a barrier so it sharp edges will not irritate and grow into the skin. It’s almost like a U shape except horizontally., keep it in at all times changing it periodically.

  16. Pam says:

    My toenail broke off – very short a on the side – an is too far down to cut straight. Should I soak and then try to dig the edge out? How do I keep it from growing back into the skin?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      It may not necessarily grow back into the skin, although you need to keep an eye on it. If you see no problem so far, I would leave it alone to grow back normally. Once it grows back a little bit and if you see that it grows back into the skin, then you can soak and try to dig out the edge.

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