Ingrown toenails (also known as onychocryptosis) refers to a condition where the side of a toenail grows into the surrounding soft skin around the nail fold. This growth causes pain, swelling, and tenderness in the corner of the nail. The most commonly affected part is the big toe, but ingrown toenails can develop on any foot. An ingrown toenail can reoccur if not treated properly. Homeopathic treatment of ingrown toenail involves stimulating the body’s natural restorative process to help ease the pain and symptoms associated with the condition. Unless treated adequately, the condition can become a recurring problem.
Homeopathic Treatment of Ingrown Toenail
Homeopathic medicines for the treatment of ingrown toenails include Magnetis Polus Australis, Graphites Naturalis, Nitric Acid, Silicea and Myristica Sebifera.
1. Magnetis Polus Australis – For Ingrown Toenail with Pulsating Pain
Magnetis Polus Australis is the medicine indicated when there is an extreme pain in the ingrown toenail coupled with sharp, pulsating pain and intense soreness around the affected part.
2. Graphites Naturalis – For Ingrown Toenail in case of Thick Nails
Graphites commonly known as Black Lead Plumbago is derived from the crushed grain of purest black lead. This remedy was proved by the founder of homeopathy Dr. Samuel Hahnemann as a very effective remedy for skin complaints and ingrown toenails. Graphites Naturalis is a medicine that is used to treat ingrown toenails in cases where the nails are thick and rough.
3. Nitric Acid – For Ingrown Toenail with Splinter-like Sensation
Nitric acid is one of the popular remedy belonging to the mineral kingdom. This remedy is prepared by blending sodium nitrate and sulphuric acid. The use of Nitric Acid is indicated when the ingrown toenails cause a splinter-like sensation in the nail. The nails in such cases are curved, yellow or distorted.
4. Silicea and Myristica Sebifera – For Ingrown Toenail with Pus Discharge
Silicea commonly known as Pure flint is a leading homeopathic remedy of mineral kingdom and is derived from chemical compound silicon dioxide. The word Silica is originated from the Latin word Silex denoting Silicon Oxide. This remedy is well indicated for the ailments attended with pus formation. Myristica Sebifera is derived from Brazilian plant Ucuba belonging to the family Myristicaceae. This remedy is a great antiseptic and has great efficacy in treating ulcerative and suppurative conditions of cellular tissue and periosteum. Myristica Sebifera quickens the process of suppuration and shortens the period. This remedy is great in healing inflammatory and suppurative stages.
Silicea and Myristica Sebifera are the medicines indicated in cases of ingrown toenails when there is an infection with pus discharge in the affected nails. These medicines help relieve pain and clear up the discharge and are used widely for homeopathic treatment of ingrown toenail.
5. Teucrium Marum Verum – For Suppuration of Nail Groove
Teucrium Marum Verum is commonly known as Cat Thyme. Cat thyme plant belonging to the genus of the mint family is a very fragrant plant which is native of Spain and Western Mediterranean. This homeopathic remedy is prepared from freshly harvested part of the plant which is chopped gently and crushed. The final product is then macerated in alcohol. This homeopathic medicine helps in treating ingrown toenail successfully when accompanied by a suppurated toenail.
6. Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum – For Ingrown Toenail with Nail Infection
Hepar sulphuris calcareum commonly known as calcium Sulphide is a remedy prepared from oyster shells.
This remedy is usually indicated when ingrown toenail is followed by toenail infection. There is severe splinter-like pain in the affected area. It also helps to hasten the suppuration and shorten the period. When pus discharged is thick, yellow and offensive this remedy is best indicated.
Side Effects of Conventional Treatment
The conventional treatment for an ingrown toenail employs the use of oral antibiotics like erythromycin, cephalexin in the treatment of ingrown nail caused due to cellulitis or nail infections. The most common listed side effect of these antibiotics are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, vaginal itching, headache, rash.
Surgical options include wedge resection, matrixectomy, and Vandenbos procedure. These surgical interventions can definitely help you to get rid of ingrown nail immediately but there are chances for it to reoccur as well. During these surgeries usually, a tourniquet is used on the toe and a deep incision is made which often requires stitching and scar formation. Hence these procedures are quite invasive and painful. Treatment of ingrown toenail in homeopathy involves the use of certain homeopathic medicines that help reduce the pain, swelling, and tenderness around the skin surrounding the toenail. These medicines also help clear off pus discharges in case of Ingrown nails. As they are developed from natural substances, they are safe and show no side effects.
Causes of Ingrown Toenails
Factors predisposing a person towards developing ingrown toenails include wearing tight or ill-fitted footwear, trimming of the toenails either by cutting the nails too short or leaving the edges sharp, injury to the toenail, naturally curved toenails, genetic susceptibility, nail plate trauma which usually occur by dropping objects on the toenail or stubbing the toenail. Other causes can include using feet extensively during athletic activities (ballet, football, kickboxing ) in which repeatedly kicking of object or pressure on feet for long periods is involved can cause protrusion of the toenail which can lead to the injury of surrounding flesh resulting in an ingrown nail. Abnormally shaped nail bed, nail deformities caused by diseases or genetic susceptibility and improper foot hygiene such as not keeping feet clean or dry are other factors.
Risk factors that may predispose the person to develop an ingrown nail are obesity, diabetes, kidney, thyroid and heart problems (which may cause foot and leg swelling), onychomycosis i.e fungal infection of nails, bony or soft tissue tumors of toes, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of feet), too small or too large shoe gear, abnormal gait and poor foot mechanics such as pronation, toe or foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and flat foot, congenital toenail deformity abnormally long toes.
Signs and Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails
Surrounding skin of the affected nail is painful, swollen and red and the affected part is usually tender. An infection may develop in the tissue surrounding the nail, leading to yellow or white pus discharge. The big toe gets affected in a majority of cases, either on one or both the feet.
Overgrowth of skin around the toe is common.
An untreated ingrown nail can cause a nail infection which can further progress to a foot ulcer, open sores, loss of blood flow to the infected area, scarring of surrounding skin and nail borders.
An ingrown nail can also progress to tissue decay and tissue death at the site of infection (cellulitis).
Diabetes can complicate ingrown nail as even small cut, scrape may quickly become infected due to lack of blood flow and nerve sensitivity.
Toenail infection due to the ingrown nail can progress to the bone causing infection (osteomyelitis).
Lichen planus can also be one of the complications for ingrown nail as in about 10 percent of cases it causes ridging, grooving, splitting and thinning of nails.
Diagnosis of ingrown nail requires taking into account all possible causative factors and medical history.
An ingrown toenail can also be diagnosed with X-ray to show how deep the nail has grown into the skin.
X-Ray can also identify ingrown nail which was caused by injury.
Management of Ingrown Toenail
Some natural ways to treat ingrown nails may include:
1. Soaking the foot in warm, soapy water 2-3 times a day helps in keeping the area clean and free of bacteria. This can be very beneficial in softening the skin of the affected area, which can make it easier to draw out the toenail from the skin.
2. Direct application of apple cider vinegar diluted with purified water or foot soak in warm water with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar can help in conditioning ingrown nails to fight bacteria.
3. Avoiding heels, tight shoes and wearing comfortable footwear can reduce down the pressure on the affected area. This can promote fast healing of the affected area.
4. Use of Essential oils such as tea tree oil, lavender oil can provide natural pain relief from an ingrown nail by ultimately giving affected area a healthy environment to heal.This may also help in remarkable reduction of inflammation.