Natural Remedies

Say Goodbye to Ingrown Toenails with These Natural Treatments!

It’s quite common to ignore the slow pain caused by an infected nail until it is unbearable. Whether the infection is caused by an injury or an ingrown nail, it’s hard to ignore when the toenail is a mess with swelling, redness, and soreness. If you are also suffering from the same, here is everything you need to know about ingrown toenails and how to cure ingrown toenails in the first place.

What Are Ingrown Toenails?

An ingrown toenail is a condition where the corners or edges of your nails grow into the skin adjacent to the nail. The result of this is pain, swelling, redness, and infections. Ingrown toenails most commonly affect your big toe.

An ingrown toenail, or onychocryptosis, is one of the most common toenail problems and may occur at any age. If not taken care of properly, this painful condition can soon become infected causing more trouble. Ingrown toenails are generally classified into three different categories:

  • Mild ingrown toenails.
  • Moderate ingrown toenails.
  • Severe grown toenails.

While mild ingrown toenail cases are generally characterized by nail-fold swelling, edema, and pain with pressure, in moderate cases there is usually an infection, increased swelling, drainage, and ulceration of the nail fold. Severe cases of an ingrown toenail, on the other hand, exhibit chronic inflammation and granulation along with severe pain.


Toenails can become infected due to several reasons including calluses caused by unfit shoes or fungal infections leaving you wondering what to do for ingrown toenails. Among the most common causes of the condition include:

  • Cutting the toenails too short, too long, or not straight.
  • Injuring your toenail by dropping something heavy on the toe, kicking a ball repeatedly, or stubbing a toe.
  • Wearing shoes of improper fitting (too right or too narrow) that crowd your toenails.
  • Having unusually curved toenails.
  • Having poor foot hygiene (not keeping the feet clean and dry).

The chances of infection of toes are higher in patients suffering from diabetes or similar conditions that cause either a weakened immune system or poor circulation.


An infected or ingrown toenail condition has specific symptoms. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the toe either at one or both sides of the nail.
  • Swelling of toe around the nail.
  • Extreme redness around the toenail.
  • Infection of the tissue around the toenail.
  • Some kind of fluid building around the toe.
  • Toenails turning yellow that are thick or cracked indicating a fungal infection in your toenails.

How To Get Rid Of Ingrown Toenails

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Supplements
  3. Home Remedies
  4. Lifestyle Changes

Did You Know!

Ingrown toenail or onychocryptosis is one of the most common fungal nail infections, and the older you get, the more likely you are to develop it.

CURE 1: Essential oils

Essential oils help support the immune system and provide relief from the discomfort caused by ingrown toenails. Some of the most effective essential oils to treat an ingrown toenail include:

1. Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil
Image: ShutterStock

How to Use?

Instead of using it in concentrated form, first dilute the oregano oil(1) with a carrier oil and then apply it on the affected area.

Why Does It Work?

Oregano oil has both antiseptic and antibacterial activities making it an effective pain reliever for an ingrown toenail.

How Much to Use?

Apply the diluted oil on infected toenail at least twice a day.

2. White Flower Oil

How to Use?

Use a few drops directly on an ingrown toenail to heal the ailment.

Why Does It Work?

White flower oil is a traditional Chinese healing oil which has herbal properties that help in healing skin ailments.

How Much to Use?

Apply the diluted oil on the affected area at least twice or thrice a day.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree Oil

How to Use?

Take warm water with 1 cup of Epsom salt and 5 drops of tea tree oil (also known as Melaleuca Alternifolia) and soak your feet in it.

Why Does It Work?

Tea tree oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which help calm redness, swelling, and inflammation caused by ingrown toenails.

How Much to Use?

Soak the feet in the essential oil solution for at least 20 minutes. This will help relieve the pain and swelling of the toenail.

If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can soon progress to an infection or even an abscess that could require surgical treatment.

CURE 2: Supplements

Although food and diet may not play a large role in preventing ingrown toenails because of the fact that the condition does not primarily occur due to nutrient deficiencies, there are some nutrients that can help maintain healthy nails and skin. Furthermore, a proper and well-balanced diet can strengthen immunity and help in the prevention of toenail infection.

1. Vitamin C and Folic acid

Why Does It Work?

Vitamin C and folic acid(2) aid in the absorption of iron in the body and help in various tissue functions as well. Lack of vitamin C and folic acid along with protein deficiencies can cause various nail infections including ingrown toenail.

How to Use?

Intake of folic acid supplements and foods rich in Vitamin C such as orange, lemon, guava, grapefruit, and vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and capsicum which are rich, natural sources of vitamin C.

How Much to Use?

Add a considerable portion of vitamin C rich food to your daily diet.

2. Biotin

Why Does It Work?

Biotin is essential for a healthy nail structure and helps reduce the nail brittleness along with improving flexibility. Biotin supplementation also helps prevent ingrown toenails and fragmented fingernail tips along with strengthening the nails and contributes to their growth.

How to Use?

In the form of food such as liver, nuts, and fish which are great sources of biotin.

How Much to Use?

Add a small portion of biotin-rich food to your daily diet.

3. Vitamin B12

Why Does It Work?

Vitamin B12 helps prevent various toenail ailments such as excessive dryness, darkened toenails, and curved/rounded toenails.

How to Use?

Take food rich in Vitamin B12 such as fish, chicken, and dairy products.

How Much to Use?

Add a small portion of vitamin B12 rich food to your daily diet.

4. Protein

Why Does It Work?

Proteins are known as the building block for nails and are required for healthy and rapid toenail growth(3). Protein deficiency may cause white nail beds as well as slow toenail growth.

How to Use?

Include protein-rich foods in your diet such as milk, eggs, cheese, meat, and beans.

How Much to Use?

Add a small portion of protein-rich food to your daily diet.

5. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Why Does It Work?

Essential fatty acids play a pivotal role in keeping the toenails healthy. Lack of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can lead to splitting and flaking of toenails.

How to Use?

Consume foods rich in essential fatty acids such as green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, flaxseed, canola oil, etc.

How Much to Use?

Add a small portion of omega-3 and omega-6 rich foods to your daily diet.

Getting the right vitamins for toenails and fingernails is essentially making sure that we eat a well-balanced diet including a good supply of protein and iron.

CURE 3: Home Remedies

1. Warm Compresses

warm compress for heal butt acne scars

This is one of the most effective home remedies for ingrown toenails. Soaking the infected toenail in warm water a few times a day soothes the skin and provides relief from pain as well. It also helps calm the inflammation caused due to ingrown nails and reduces swelling and tenderness.

How to do?

Fill a small tub with warm water and soak your foot in the tub for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat this exercise at least three to four times a day for optimal relief from ingrown toenail symptoms.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

This is yet another effective home remedy for the treatment of ingrown nails. Apple cider vinegar is known for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which help in relieving the symptoms of ingrown nails.

How to Use?

Take a tub of warm water and mix some apple cider vinegar in it. Soak your foot in this solution for about 15-20 minutes. Once done, remove the foot and dry it completely before covering the area with a bandage for about an hour and then remove it to get quick relief.

3. Cotton Balls

One of the easiest home treatments for an ingrown toenail is putting a cotton ball/wedge under the nail to get quick relief.

How to Use?

Soak the feet in warm water and dry it completely. Lift the affected nail gently and place a rolled piece of cotton (olive oil-soaked) between the nail and the skin. Replace the cotton ball after about every 2-3 hour.

4. Turmeric

A popular and ancient home remedy for various medical conditions, turmeric is very effective in the home treatment of ingrown toenails. Known for its natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it not only prevents infection and reduces pain, but it calms down inflammation as well.

How to Use?

Make a thick paste of half a teaspoon of turmeric mixed with a little mustard oil. Apply this paste directly over the affected toenail and cover it with a cotton cloth/bandage. Repeat this at least 2-3 times daily for best results from the symptoms of ingrown toenails.

5. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt helps soften up the skin around the affected toenail making it easier to draw the ingrown nail out. It is also effective in decreasing the inflammation caused due to an ingrown toenail.

How to Use?

Take a tub of warm water and mix a tablespoon of Epsom salt in it. Soak the affected foot in this mixture for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat this at least 3-4 times daily for quick relief.

CURE 4: Lifestyle Changes

1. Trim Your Toenails Straight

Always cut the nails across in a straight line. Make sure not to cut them too short or rounded at the corners.

2. Wear Proper Fitting Shoes

Ill-fitting shoes can place too much pressure on the toes or pinch them causing a nail to grow inwards or into the surrounding tissue. To prevent an ingrown toenail from developing or worsening, it is essential to wear shoes and socks that fit well and still leave ample space in the toe bed. Also, avoid wearing shoes altogether during the healing process to limit pressure on the toenails.

3. Try Toe Braces

Toe Braces

Toe braces are meant to help shield the toe skin from a sharp, ingrown nail and also lift the nail edges as the nail grows. They are made of adhesive, composite, and thin material that is usually glued to the top of your toe.

4. Maintain Proper Hygiene and Dryness

An ingrown toenail is much less likely to occur if the feet are kept clean and dry.

5. See Your Podiatrist for Professional Trimming on a Regular Basis

If you have any kind of circulatory problems in the feet or you cannot cut your own nails, it is advisable to see a podiatrist (toenail specialist) to get them trimmed. Patients suffering from diabetes or at other peripheral vascular diseases need to be extra careful.

Also Read: How to have a healthy lifestyle?

Bottom Line

Ingrown toenails are one of the most common foot conditions that people experience. Irrespective of the cause, it can be incredibly annoying and excruciatingly painful if not treated on time.

How well you take care of your feet is one of the most important factors in preventing an ingrown toenail. Additionally, by avoiding or minimizing the risk factors associated with ingrown toenails and following above home remedies, it is possible to prevent ingrown toenails entirely.


1. Can We Get an Ingrown Toenail on Any Toe?

Although ingrown toenails can affect any toe, it most commonly occurs on the big toes.

2. What Are the Possible Complications of Ingrown Toenails?

If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can cause much deeper infection on the skin and even the underlying bone. This can lead to a serious bone infection. It is important to note that complications from ingrown toenails are more severe for people with diabetes.

3. Can I Cut out Ingrown Toenails at Home on My Own?

There is a common foot health myth that cutting a “v�? in the corner of an ingrown toenail allows it to heal and grow it correctly. However, this is not true as cutting a “v�? can actually cause you more pain.

4. What Are the Ways to Prevent Ingrown Toenails?

Avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes and trim your toenails properly to prevent ingrown toenails. You can also talk with your podiatrist about how to take care and properly groom your toenails.

5. When Should You See a Doctor for an Ingrown Toenail?

If you’re someone with a poor immune system and diabetes, you should immediately see a medical professional for an ingrown toenail. In other cases, if your ingrown toenail is extremely painful, is infected, or does not show any signs of improvement after five to ten days of home treatment, it’s time to visit your doctor. Some of the signs of infection include redness, swelling, throbbing, and yellow or green drainage in and around the toenail.

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