8 Ways to Care for Your Nails

If your feet are suffering from fungus or if you don't know what to do about an ingrown toenail, we have 8 tips and tricks to keep your nails looking healthy and attractive. From epsom salts to cotton balls, you can repair your nails in no time. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,
April 10, 2017

8 Ways to Keep Your Nails Looking and Feeling Good

Forbid Fungus

Prevent fungus from invading your nails by keeping them clipped short. The longer your nails, the more likely they are to catch onto clothing or snug shoes—and this can pull the nail up from the skin and open the door to moisture and fungus. Keep fingernails only slightly longer than the tips of your fingers and toenails just aligned with the tips of your toes.

Vinegar Soak

Is your nail going green? It could be a bacterial or fungal infection. The natural acids in vinegar can help kill those nasty invaders. Place your infected nail in a bowl of white vinegar and let soak; repeat several times daily.

Soothe with Epsom Salts

For an inflamed (but not infected!) ingrown toenail, pour a handful of Epsom salts into a tub or large bowl of warm water. Once it’s dissolved, stick your foot in the water for 15-20 minutes; this soak will decrease inflammation, fight infection, reduce pain, and soften the skin. Repeat a few times every day until the condition improves. When not soaking it, keep your toe completely dry.

See Also: 8 Ways to Strengthen Your Nails

Numb the Nail

Dental pain relievers contain a local anesthetic called benzocaine, which can be used topically to numb the ache of an ingrown nail. Apply as little as possible to achieve numbness: One drop on the cuticle can do the trick. Keep the wound uncovered and leave for a few minutes, until the skin is numbed.

Cotton Ball Cure

Ease your toe pain using a cotton ball, antibiotic ointment, and a bobby pin to form a wedge between your nail and the skin. First, soak your foot in hot water and Epsom salts to soften the area and prepare it for treatment. Separate a small clump of cotton from a cotton ball, and coat it with antibiotic ointment. Twist the cotton into a narrow strand or small ball. Sterilize a bobby pin or unused toothpick in rubbing alcohol, then use it to gently prod the cotton beneath the edge of your ingrown nail, creating a cushion between the nail and your tender skin. Removing the sharp nail from the fold of skin will reduce pain, help begin healing, and redirect nail growth over the skin rather than into it. Change the cotton every day and clean your toe between treatments to prevent infection.

On the Mend with Moisture

A moistened bandage can help soften your wayward nail and keep it from stabbing your skin. Secure a Band-Aid or strip of gauze over the nail, then keep it nice and moist by dripping some water on it. Change the bandage every day and repeat until the softened nail is ready to be cut safely.

Nail Trimming 101

Prevent ingrown toenails by trimming them properly. First, give your feet a good soak in warm or hot water. Your nails will be softer and easier to cut. Find a nail scissor or trimmer that is clean and sharp; sterilize your cutting tool with rubbing alcohol or in a boiling-water bath. Trim nails straight across without rounding or tapering the corners. One rule of thumb (or toe!) is to cut just far enough so that the nail is level with the tip of your toe. Straight corners of the nail should stick out on both sides rather than tuck into the adjacent skin. File sharp corners with an emery board to smooth them out.

See also: 9 Ways to Get Rid of Foot Calluses and Corns Naturally

Try Vicks

There are many pain-relieving ointments for ingrown nails, and they may ease your pain temporarily, but they don’t actually fix the problem. Instead, here’s an unexpected pain reliever that works double-duty to also heal your ingrown nail: Vicks VapoRub! Apply the menthol cream to the entire affected area—even underneath the nail, if possible—and wrap with a loose bandage so it stays put. Repeat two times every day. VapoRub will reduce pain and inflammation while softening your skin and the stuck nail, encouraging it to grow out. 

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