Prison documentaries show us that humans are ingenious.
(Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.)
But dental floss for ingrown toenails? How would thin waxed string pluck out a shark's tooth of a nail?
What about tooth floss for fungal nails?
What magical properties have Oral B bestowed on menthol-tinged string that I didn't know about?
Is it with or without the little violin handle? Are you meant to use the cool or fresh mint floss?
So many questions — I just had to try it.
Dental Floss For an Ingrown (or Fungal) Toenail?
Right, I'm covering treating toenail fungus with dental floss right here — at the beginning.
Because, it's a lot easier to answer!
So, I have some good, and some not-so-good news for you...
Dental Floss For Fungal Toenails
The Bad News...
Ok, bad tidings first: you won't cure your fungal nail infection with floss.
There's literally nothing in floss that's anti-fungal.
I know, I know.
It's so frustrating to have something already in the bathroom cabinet itching for dual-use. But no dice on this one.
The only way I can see it even approaching a cure is to use the Oral B string to prize your toenail up....
...in order to apply a proper anti-fungal.
The Good News
The good news? If it's early-stage toenail fungus, you can do it (almost) as easily.
Yes, as an infant infection, toenail fungus can be consigned to yellow history books.
You need to soften your infected nail with Gehwol Nail Care.
Then you need to apply common or garden Terbinafine cream. Aka, Athlete's foot cream.
Is it as cheap as dental floss? No.
Does it involve more work? A little, yes. Unlike dental floss, does it actually work?
In most cases, yep.
But: it has to be the superficial, aka early-stage, of fungal nail infection.
Right, with toenail fungus and dental floss out the way, let's move on to ingrown toenails....
Dental Floss For an Ingrown Toenail?
I've pondered a lot of DIY foot cures a lot lately. Some are legit, for example:
So I googled and to my pleasant surprise, the ones for ingrown toenails aren't too off the rails.
(Unlike fungal nails, oh boy)
Undeterred, I carried on, and there it struck me - "how to use dental floss for ingrown toenails."
Much Ado About Nothing
I scanned a few articles and nothing showed how it would work.
Nice crisp cartoons, but all the instructions were vague.
(Which is exactly what you don't want when it comes to infection-prone ingrown toenails).
The real fun was the YouTube videos. Surprise, surprise none of them actually demonstrated them doing it.
One of them even said to floss the front which makes no sense at all. Ingrown toenails are an issue at the sides.
I couldn't contain my burning interest any longer. I had to try it out.
Dental Floss For An Ingrown Toenail
Here's What I Found...
Now I have to put two caveats here:
But, I do know what it takes to cure an ingrown nail. I also know what equipment you need to do a proper job.
What struck me was how awkward it was to slide the floss underneath the nail.
The outside-of-your-toe nail edge wasn't so bad. Anchoring the inside edge was near impossible.
Refreshing Mint Taste
Because the floss is so thin, it needs a lot of force to bend the offending nail section. Then, of course, it's waxed so it slides and slips.
You then have to guess where to apply pressure and hope the lack of sensation doesn't mean you wrench a lot more up.
Soft and Gentle for Gums
Then, the most important part struck me. Assuming you did actually lever the painful nail shard up, what do you do with it?
You'd have to keep the floss tight in one hand, and a suitable set of nail nippers in the other.
Then you'd have to work around the floss holding the nail up and clean nip the nail. Not happening.
I can promise you without removal i.e. cutting, it would simply fall back in place.
Can Dental Floss Work For an Ingrown Nail?
Other DIY Ingrown Toenail "Cures"
V Cuts in Toenail
A lot of people swear by cutting a V-shape notch into the toenail. I had a patient tell me the army used to recommend it!
I've never used it. I assume the way it's meant to work is that the notch relieves pressure on the nail as it grows, and the V widens out.
I'm almost certain it wouldn't resolve a case that was angry and pus-weeping.
This is not a common technique in the UK, either as a DIY cure or in Podiatry clinics. I've heard it's used in Europe, particularly Poland and Germany.
Something like dental braces hold the nail edges in place. Weirdly, I can actually see how this would provide temporary relief.
It would need professional application by someone experienced. It would also need regular reviews.
In other words, not slung on at home with one-size-fits-all instructions.
Ok, I've made my thought on home cures for ingrown toenails pretty clear!
What DOES Work? (It Depends What Stage)
Ingrown vs. REALLY Ingrown
As Podiatrists, our definition of ingrown is a little skewed. We see cases that are agony. The kind that hurt when you touch a sock let alone cram it into an office shoe.
You cure these cases only when you take the nail spike out — usually with an anesthetic.
Anything else kicks the down the road in pain. Even a course of antibiotics.
But, as with everything, there are levels...
Early Stage Ingrown Toenails
But we also see a ton of early-stage ingrown toenails.
Ingrown Toenail Home Cure: What Can Actually Work.
No, dental floss doesn't work. Neither do V-shape cuts.
Antibiotics can slow an infected toenail down; but 9/10 as soon as your course ends the infection starts again.
One of the very few products that does work is Gehwol Nail Fluid.
I have to stress though, this works on ingrowing toenails that are in the "painful but not infected and weeping pus stage".
For certain patients, it's a game changer and it also works on corns.
(Use it daily for two weeks, then 3 times a week after that. Lots of my patients no longer need treatment but pop in to buy more every 4 to 6 months)
How Podiatrists Treat Early Stage Ingrown Toenails
The Right Set of Nail Nippers
When you treat an ingrown toenail you need precision. Both in where you cut and where you don't.
I couldn't imagine using those Xmas-cracker giveaway nippers.
In fact, I couldn't use them. They don't have the edge, angle or sharp blades needed.
Instead, we use a pointed type that looks a bit like pliers. We also use a variety of fine-pointed files that allow us to gently pry the very sensitive nail fold.
This is something of a dying art and is basically a surgery-lite. In a resection, the Podiatrist uses a blade to remove the offending nail spike. This is instead of levering it up and cutting it out.
It's sometimes done with a local anesthetic, sometimes not. It needs a lot of experience and a steady hand.
Pack With Cotton Wool
I use this for some early ingrown cases. Ones where my patient either doesn't want or quite yet needs toenail surgery.
It should be sterile and left in situ and placed in the space where the uncomfortable nail segment is cut out.
I find it does help at least for how long the appointments last between treatments.
Salt Water Foot Bath
The good ol' salt foot soak. This is still used for post-surgery ingrown nails here in the UK.
Can it cure an ingrown toenail? Well it won't cure the actual nail spike from punching through your skin. But it can work to keep any latent infection at bay.
Dental Floss For an Ingrown (or Fungal) Toenail?
Women have worse feet than men.
Yep, and it's all down to those ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).