A common malady that both adults and children experience regularly, ingrown toenails can cause excruciating pain if left untreated. In the event that your child develops an ingrown toenail, you may be able to use home remedies to fix the problem, provided you act quickly. Always check young children’s nails on a regularly basis -- such as after baths -- to increase your chances of being able to identify and treat ingrown toenails more promptly.
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An ingrown toenail develops when the edge of a child’s toenail curves inward, which results in downward nail growth that cuts into the tender toe skin. Common signs of an ingrown toenail in children include excessive redness, tenderness and swelling in the area of skin around the corner of one of the toenails, usually on a big toe. Two of the most common causes of ingrown toenails are ill-fitting shoes and improper nail cutting techniques.
Do not attempt home treatment for ingrown toenails if your child has diabetes, poor blood circulation or nerve damage. These health conditions may make your child more likely to suffer from ingrown toenail complications. If your child experiences excessive pain or you notice signs of infection, such as pus leakage or red streaks branching beyond the affected toenail, take your child to a doctor promptly for diagnosis and treatment, which may include antibiotics and minor surgery to remove the affected portion of the nail.
Home remedies for children’s ingrown toenails are effective when they’re able to relieve the pressure of the toenail on the skin. Most ingrown toenails in children can be properly treated with warm water soaks and topical antibiotic cream. Depending upon the success of the water soaks, other options include placing cotton pads under the edge of the nail or carefully trimming the nail.
Fill a small tub or plastic container with warm water that contains a squirt of antibacterial soap. Place your child’s affected foot in the tub of water and allow the nail to soak for approximately 20 minutes. Try to soak your child’s foot two to four times daily for best results. Near the end of each soaking period, gently rub the swollen, red portion of the skin outwardly to encourage the imbedded portion of the nail to rise from the affected skin. Gently insert cotton pads under the edge of the nail, if necessary, to assist in correcting the growth pattern of the ingrown toenail.
Take extra measures to ensure that your child stays comfortable throughout the duration of the ingrown toenail home treatment. You may allow your child to go without shoes or to wear sandals to minimize the pressure on the toe during treatment and in the days following treatment. In the event that your child must wear closed toe shoes, isolate and protect the affected toe by placing a foam pad or several cotton balls around it, securing them in place loosely with medical tape so the tender skin won’t have to rub up repeatedly against the shoe or other toes.
- NYU Langone, Department of Pediatrics: Ingrown Toenail
- National Institutes of Health: Ingrown Toenail
- “It’s Not Just Growing Pains”; Dr. Thomas Lehman; 2004