An ingrown toenail occurs when your nail grows into the skin of the nail bed, usually on the side. It can be a very painful condition and can easily become infected. One remedy for an ingrown toenail is to soak the affected foot in a bath containing Epsom salts.
A variety of things can cause an ingrown toenail. Among the most common, according to the website Foot Health Facts, are trauma to the toes, wearing shoes that are too tight, nail diseases and improper trimming. Foot Health Facts reports that heredity can play a role as well, making some people more prone to ingrown nails without any other underlying cause. Some systemic diseases such as diabetes that lead to poor circulation in your feet can also increase your risk of an ingrown nail, MayoClinic.com reports.
Epsom salt is a form of magnesium sulfate. Though some people use it internally as a laxative, it it most widely used as a soaking agent. By soaking an ingrown toenail in warm water with epsom salts, you can help soften the nail, making it easier to trim, according to Northcoast Footcare. Epsom salt also helps to soothe inflammation, reduce swelling and draw out infection, the Start Healthcare website states.
MayoClinic.com recommends that you soak the affected foot three times a day in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Northcoast Footcare recommends 15 minutes of soaking at least twice a day. Add about 1/2 cup of Epsom salt for every gallon of water.
Start Healthcare states that alternating soaking your ingrown toenail in hot and cold water may be more effective than soaking it in warm water alone. The website recommends you soak your foot for three minutes in hot water containing Epsom salt that's 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and then for 30 seconds in cold water with no Epsom salts. You should do this at least three times a day.
If you a have chronic problem with ingrown toenails, your doctor may advise you to have the nail removed. There are both chemical and surgical removal procedures, some of which are temporary and some permanent. According to Northcoast Footcare, post-surgical treatment includes soaking the affected foot in warm water containing Epsom salts.
Matt Olberding has been a professional journalist for nearly 20 years. His career has included stints as a copy editor, page designer, reporter, line editor and managing editor at newspapers ranging from community newspapers to major metros. Olberding has been a business writer and editor for a decade.