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Hydrogen peroxide for an ingrown toenail - Input Junkie
April 6th, 2014
03:02 pm


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Hydrogen peroxide for an ingrown toenail
I had an ingrown toenail for a while, and trimming the nail didn't help enough.

I got a recommendation for hydrogen peroxide (use the stuff from the drugstore, not the higher concentration you could get at a healthfood store). The theory is that ingrown toenails are infections as well as nails growing in the wrong direction.

Dabbing my toenail with the peroxide helped some, but even frequent dabbing didn't help enough. Eventually, I put the peroxide on a small wad of toilet paper, and used my sock to hood it in place. And decided that I was going to continue with that for two weeks after all the pain was gone. Actually, a week was plenty-- my toe was starting to hurt (probably because I was using more peroxide), so I stopped, and my toe has been fine since. The skin was rough for about a week, but no actual damage.

Supporting evidence that there was an infection involved-- the last pain to go away was a little behind the center of my nail, nowhere near the corner where the nail had been digging in.

Edited to add: en_ki warns that leaving acid in contact with skin for extended periods can cause permanent damage, and "stop if it starts hurting" is not a good enough precaution. This should probably classified as cheap possibly safe rather than probably safe.

Previous post-- Cheap, probably safe remedies. Other cheap, possibly or probably safe remedies which you're seen work are welcome in comments.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1043917.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.


(10 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
Beware of the logic "there is an infection; this substance fights infection; therefore I will leave this substance on for a long time". When you leave an oxidizer (or an acid---people do the same thing you described with vinegar to treat warts) in contact with your skin for a long time, you are destroying your own tissue along with foreign organisms that may be present. The hope is that there will be some preferential destruction of the bad stuff, and that your own tissue will grow back because it has your body to support it.

This is also, of course, what happens when you cut away at it with a scalpel or freeze it with liquid nitrogen; and in all these cases, there is the risk that you will do more damage to your own tissues than your body can cope with effectively. So if you have access to a doctor, it's probably helpful to have the doctor do the main treatment and advise you on continuing care; and definitely keep an eye on it to make sure you don't develop a big hole in your skin or blackened, rotting tissue or the like. AIUI, "stop when it hurts" isn't good enough, since you may be destroying nerve endings as you go.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning-- I seem to have lucked out in this case. My toe seems to have normal sensitivity.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
I used to have this problem recurrently. I found that I should deal with it the infection with a bandage on the toe to keep the sock lint and such out. Wash it out with H202 in the evenings. Add a blob of OTC antibiotic creme if the infection seemed really bad*.

In the longer run I eventually broke myself of the habit of over trimming my big toenails.

One other trick I found was putting a strand of dental floss under the digging-in corner helped let it grow and get me out of the cycle of trimming it because it was ingrowing and then having it get more ingrown.

* But not go see a doctor bad.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
I got an easy remedy from a doctor.

Step 1: Soak your foot in warm epson salts solution (something like 1/4 epson salts in 2 cuts water) for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Take a small bit of cotton fluff (like from a pill bottle) and roll it into a tight ball (start with something no larger than a BB, and likely smaller, and use a nail file or tweezers to push it gently under the ingrown part of the nail. I roll the ball in antibiotic ointment first, primarily to allow it to move more easily and secondarily to help prevent infection.

Step 3: repeated Step 1 12 hours later, but after soaking, remove the old bit of cotton fluff. Then repeat Step 2, if possible, with a slightly larger ball of cotton fluff.

After 2-3 days of this, you should have sufficient space under your nail to make trimming easier, or if you are really lucky, you have just trained the nail to not be ingrown anymore.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
When there's an infection associated with an ingrown nail, there's likely to be an abscess pressing on the nailbed. It may be that simply keeping the area moist for a long period softened/separated things enough for the pus to drain.

H2O2 may or may not be useful for treating infections, but in my experience it's good for detecting them. It won't foam up on contact with regular tissue (though it will whiten skin temporarily), but it will if exposed to a trace of pus.

I've been using H2O2 as a gargle for many years now. It's less rough on tissue as carbonated water, in my experience.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, it didn't seem bad enough to include an abscess, and the hydrogen peroxide didn't foam at all.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
May be infection, or may also be fungal. For fungal, use Vicks Vaporub on nail, or tea tree oil
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC)


I endured the h202 daubing and bandaging on both big toes. Then I defaulted to wearing only socks & sandals for several years, which relieved the source problem of the feet being stuffed into closed shoes for half the day... F-FWD: Then my podiatrist sliced both cuticles in half (the long way) and sealed the nail bed in place. He praised my sandal option & told me to cut the toenail so that it's flat along the forward edge. I only get the odd, brief flare up nowadays.
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 01:37 am (UTC)
Hydrogen peroxide is no longer used on wounds and infections, as it can make them worse. The method described by heron61 is the one to go with.

Cornmeal mush is supposed to be an effective remedy for toenail fungus. I haven't tried it, but it's certainly both very cheap and completely safe, so it couldn't hurt.

[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
Either I am misremembering my schoolgirl chemistry and BSc Biochemistry or hydrogen peroxide is not an acid or even acidic. It is an alkali/base/oxidiser/oxidizer and so "basic"or alkaline. It is, however, corrosive, and so otherwise the advice advice is sound. I think that en_ki mentions acids because vinegar is an acid and they then go on to talk about that as well. Yay English language having multiple possible readings of the same words/text.

Edited at 2014-04-12 05:30 am (UTC)
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