When Your Child Has an Ingrown Toenail: Treatment Steps

Does your little one have redness and tenderness around his or her toenail? Does it look like the toenail is becoming buried in skin on one or both sides? Chances are, your child has an ingrown toenail. Follow the steps below to treat this condition properly.

Step 1: Evaluate the severity.

You can usually attempt to treat mildly ingrown toenails at home, but if your child has any of the following symptoms, you'll want to call a podiatrist or physician.

  • The entire toe, not just the area around the nail, is red and swollen.
  • There is pus exuding from the toe.
  • Your child is in severe pain. (Use your judgment on this one—every child is different.)

Step 2: Purchase new shoes.

If your child's ingrown toenail is relatively minor and you've decided to try treating it at home, the first thing you want to do is buy your child a new pair of looser shoes. Often, ingrown toenails are caused by the shoe pressing on the toe. Your child's shoes may be too small and tight, and that could be contributing to the condition.

Get rid of any shoes that your child has outgrown so he or she is not tempted to wear them. Only let your child wear loose-fitting shoes and sandals that leave the toe exposed until you get this ingrown nail problem under control.

Step 3: Soak the foot in Epsom salts.

Epsom salts are very soothing for an ingrown toenail, and since they're just magnesium salts, they're safe for kids to use. Toss a handful or two into a tub of warm water and have your child soak his or her foot for about 20 minutes, 2 or 3 times per week. This should help prevent infections, and reduce swelling and pain.

Step 4: Trim the toenail carefully.

Sterilize your toenail clippers and nail file with some rubbing alcohol before using them to clip your child's toenails. Then, make sure you trim the nail straight across, rather than on a curve. Do not dig under the nail or attempt to pry it out from under the skin.

If you keep trimming the nail straight across, encouraging your child to wear looser shoes, and soaking the foot in Epsom salts, there's a good chance a minor ingrown nail will correct itself within a few weeks or months. If the nail continues to be an issue and is causing your child pain, contact a podiatrist, such as one from Mid Nebraska Foot Clinic. He or she may trim the nail in a way that keeps it from becoming ingrown again.