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Ingrown Toenails in Children

Ingrown Toenails in ChildrenIf your child’s toe begins to look red and angry, an ingrown toenail may be the problem. An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail begins to grow into the surrounding skin instead of straight outward causing pain and discomfort. If left untreated, the nail may break the skin and allow bacteria to enter leading to infection.

An ingrown can occur on any toe, but most commonly affects the big toe. The most common causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Improper trimming of nails
  • Poorly fitted shoes
  • Repeated trauma to the nail
  • Tearing or picking at nails

Certain nail or toe shapes may also be prone to developing ingrown toenails.

Signs and Symptoms

Check your child’s feet regularly as they may hide this condition, even if they are in significant pain. You may notice the skin around the nail appears red, swollen, or feels warm to the touch. Your child’s toe may also be tender when rubbed or squeezed by a sock or shoe.

In some cases, the nail may break the skin and cause an infection. Signs of infection may include a fluid-filled blister, discharge around the edge of the nail, a foul odor, and even fever. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention as the infection may spread through the toe and into the bone leading to further complications.

When To See a Podiatrist

If you notice infection, or if there is no sign of improvement after several days, contact our office to schedule an evaluation with one of our podiatrists.   . Do not attempt to dig out the nail or cut at it, as you may worsen the condition or increase the risk of infection.
In severe cases or instances where ingrown toenails are a repeated occurrence, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the nail. During this procedure, the toe is first numbed with a local anesthetic and then depending on your evaluation with your doctor either the ingrown portion of the toenail or the entire toenail is removed.  . The nail is then dressed with a bandage and antibiotic cream may be prescribed in case of infection.
Immediately following the procedure an open-toed shoe or surgical shoe will be worn to avoid irritation to the toe.   our child can resume regular shoes and activity after a few days, if allowed by their podiatrist, but should avoid strenuous activities for two weeks following treatment.   It is important to follow through with treatment and aftercare even if symptoms are improved. If a partial nail is removed, the nail might grow back within a few months. If the complete nail is removed, regrowth could take up to a year. The nail will be thinner than before and may not look the same as it did before it became ingrown.


The most common causes of ingrown toenails are narrow shoes and improper cutting. Use these precautions to lower your child’s risk of developing an ingrown toenail:

  • Ensure your child’s shoes fit properly, the widest part of the shoe should match the widest part of the foot
  • Trim your children’s nails straight across and do not cut them too short. Do not cut off the corners or try to round them out. The best time to cut nails is after a shower or bath while the nails are soft.

For more information on ingrown toenails in children or to schedule an appointment, please contact DM Foot and Ankle today.

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FridayOutpatient Surgeries
& 2nd Fri of month - clinic 9:30am - 1:00pm
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