Posts Tagged ‘ingrown toenail’

How To Tackle an Ingrown Toenail

The last time I was at a family gathering, my sister asked me, “What’s your favorite over-the-counter product?”

That’s easy to answer: it’s New Skin®. Normally used to seal up cuts and scrapes, I love to recommend it for a completely different condition: ingrown toenails.

I ’ve spent years and years fighting the pain of getting ingrown toenails on both of my big toes. Then, as a pharmacy student sitting in class, one of my professors mentioned a product  called Outgrow® that he recommended for avoiding ingrown toenails. “It’s brushed onto the skin where an ingrown toenail likes to form and like magic, it will “toughen up” the tender skin and keep the nail from cutting into it. Eventually, the nail is forced to grow out straight.”

“Aha!” I immediately went out and purchased a bottle and used it very successfully for years, until I misplaced it somehow during a move out of state. I didn’t worry about it at first, thinking I could just buy another one. But alas, when I went to the pharmacy shelf to pick up another bottle, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Further research revealed that the manufacturer had discontinued their original formulation several years back. I was willing to try anything, so I ordered the new version. Unfortunately for me, the “new” formula proved totally useless, and I was again plagued with painful ingrown toenails.

Years and many ingrown toenails later, I renewed my search for something like the original version of Outgrow® that would  toughen up or protect my skin. I’d used New Skin® before on cuts, and wondered, “Could this work to prevent an ingrown toenail?” Another plus is that New Skin® contains an anti-infective compound called 8-hydroxyquinoline which can help heal your ingrown toenail! When I tried it, it worked so well that I happily recommend it to anyone else needing to avoid ingrown toenails.

Here’s how to use New Skin® to prevent or treat an ingrown toenail:

  1. You’ll need a bottle of New Skin®, a toothpick, a place to apply it that you can wipe up the mess if you spill or drip, and at least 15 minutes of drying time.
  2. Soak your toes in warm water to soften your toenail. You can also do this right after a warm bath or shower.
  3. Dry your foot well.
  4. Brush on a thin layer of New Skin® along the skin of the nail that tends to or which is already curling under your tender skin.
  5. While still wet, use the toothpick to lift up the edge of your toenail just a bit and work some of the liquid New Skin® underneath it so that the liquid is between your nail and your skin. You don’t need a thick coat, just enough to spread along the nail where it likes to curl.
  6. Let it dry for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Repeat if needed with a second “coat”, letting it thoroughly dry before putting on socks.

One 2-coat application lasts me several months. You’ll notice that your toenail will grow out nice and straight instead of cutting into your skin. Enjoy the freedom from the pain of pesky ingrown toenails!

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Take THAT, You Ingrown Toenail

Q: What do you recommend for ingrown toenails?

I used to use a product called Outgro® which did a fine job helping me prevent the pain of ingrown toenails. Then it went off the market, only to return as a wimpy “not worth your money” remedy that didn’t remedy ANYTHING. Afterward, I spent years searching for something that would do what Outgro® could: toughen the skin of my big toe, preventing my toenail from gouging into the tender skin underneath, and encouraging it to grow out straight instead of curling under and repeating the misery.

A couple of years ago I finally found a product that works for most early cases of ingrown toenails, and another product that helps with more advanced cases. But NEITHER of these are powerful enough to overcome an infected ingrown toenail. If your toe is infected, you MUST seek medical help. And if you are a diabetic please, DON’T WAIT! I have seen far, far too many folks with diabetes LOSE A TOE or even a leg because an infected toe spread into the toe bone, and the only way to keep it from spreading was to CUT IT OFF.

If your nail hasn’t actually cut into your skin yet, applying a thin layer of New Skin® liquid bandage will toughen and protect it. New Skin® has an additional advantage: it contains 8-hydroxyquinoline, the same anti-infective found in Bag Balm®.

Here’s how to use New Skin® for an early ingrown toenail:
Step 1: Soak your foot in warm salt water or Epson salts for at least 20-30 minutes. This softens the nail and helps you get any dirt out from around and under the nail.
Step 2: Dry your toe thoroughly, then paint a thin layer of liquid bandage on the skin on and around the offending toenail where it is getting sore. If you use too much, it will drip off and cause a mess.
Step 3: Take a clean toothpick and gently lift the nail just a tiny bit, letting the liquid bandage run underneath the nail onto the skin below. This coats the tender skin to make it “tougher” and more able to resist your nail from cutting into it.
Step 4: Let your toe dry before putting on socks. You now have a waterproof barrier that you can add to daily or several times a week until the nail stops pinching into your skin.

Using the liquid bandage encourages your nail to grow out without curling under.
However, if your nail is already embedded into the skin enough that the liquid bandage can’t get underneath it, you’re going to have to get the nail out of there first. I have found that Dr. Scholl’s Ingrown Toenail Pain Reliever works to soften your toenail and make it rubbery, allowing you to pry it out of your skin and trim it off yourself. It comes as a kit containing a small tube of 1% sodium sulfide gel, 12 foam pads shaped like tiny donuts and 12 protective bandages.

To use Dr. Scholl’s Ingrown Toenail Pain Reliever to soften up your toenail, you need some salt or Epsom salts and the kit, which is sold without a prescription. It’s not widely available in some areas, so I recommend calling around to save time and gas.
Step 1: Soak your foot first to soften the nail, in warm salt water or Epsom salts for 20-30 minutes.
Step 2: Apply the donut-shaped foam pad, centering the donut hole over the nail that you want to remove.
Step 3: Apply the stinky gel onto your nail inside the donut hole of the foam pad and cover it with the protective bandage supplied in the kit.
Step 4: Repeat twice a day for up to a week until you can lift the nail out and trim it off.

Because ingrown toenails often come back I suggest applying New Skin® liquid bandage to the exposed skin that’s around and underneath the newly trimmed-off nail to encourage it to grow back nice and straight.

Please remember, if your toe is infected, seek medical help; don’t mess around with this on your own!

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