Painful Ingrown Toenails – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Ingrown toenails are nails that have become embedded in the surrounding soft flesh the toe. The big toe is most often affected, but other toes can also suffer. Here is some essential advice on the causes, symptoms and a natural treatment option for painful ingrown toenails.


Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful. They are caused by a number of factors: wearing short, tight shoes, socks, or hosiery, poor nail care, injury to the nail bed; fungus and heredity factors. Obese people are particularly susceptible – their feet gain weight just like the rest of the body and the skin can swell up and around the toenail. If you combine this with the excess pressure placed upon the feet, and a bit of well intentioned but poor nail clipping, and you have a ready recipe for pain.

Most ingrown toenails are actually self-inflicted. If you rip off your toenails with your fingers instead of cutting them, you leave jagged edges. These dig into the nail grooves when your tight shoes press against the toenail. Improper clipping by cutting the nail too short and rounding the corners can cause the same problem.


An infection called paronychia can result when a toenail penetrates the flesh. It begins as a minor swelling, with redness and clear fluid oozing from the site. If this is ignored, then it can become infected and subsequently painful and swollen. At this point, walking can become unbearable. If sill left without suitable treatment, pus will exude from the infected site and red streaks can appear along the foot and shoot up the leg. At this point the infection will have become dangerous as it could enter the bloodstream, causing you to become ill, possible leading to the loss of a toe, foot or leg, if gangrene subsequently sets in. Rest assured though- thankfully, this is a rare occurrence.


In order to treat an ingrown toenail at its early stages soak your foot in a tub filled with warm, strong sage and yarrow tea(make this by using ½ cup or 60 milliliters of each dried herb per gallon of boiling water, then steep, strain and cool until comfortable, ½ cup or 120 milliliters of sea salt, and a few drops of tea tree lavender essential oil for 10 – 15 minutes. Dry thoroughly. Now take a sliver of cotton and using a clean toothpick, ever so gently wedge the cotton under the offending toenail. Leave it there until the toenail grows out. It will help direct the nail’s growth over the skin. Apply a drop of thyme, lavender or tea tree essential oil on the site daily to keep any infection at bay.