Ingrown toenails are no fun, especially if you’re a child. Learn how to get your child back on her feet in no time with these tips.
It’s hard to imagine how something so little could cause so much pain. But for anyone who’s ever experienced an ingrown toenail, it’s not something to take lightly. When your child has an ingrown toenail it can be especially distressing for you, the parent. If your little one is experiencing foot pain due to an ingrown toenail there are steps you can take to help alleviate the pain and heal the area.
An ingrown toenail occurs when a portion of the nail grows sideways or inwards. This can begin to put pressure on the surrounding skin and, in advanced cases, the nail may become completely embedded in the skin, inflamed and extremely painful. While any toe can suffer from an ingrown toenail, this condition most often occurs in the big toe.
With small children, it’s important to check their feet when helping them put on their shoes and when bathing them, since they may or may not tell you there’s a problem until the ingrown toenail pain becomes more intense and they begin to limp on the affected foot.
There’s much you can do to keep onychocryptosis (the medical term for an ingrown toenail) from occurring in the first place. While this is likely not your child’s favorite activity, please make sure to keep your child’s nails trimmed to the proper length.
It’s important to clip the nails straight across instead of rounding off the edges. Trimming the nail too low can also lead to infection, so it is vital to clip them not too short, not too long. Fungal infections could also cause the nail to grow thicker and wider than the nail bed, thereby creating an ingrown toenail. It is also possible to have a genetic predisposition to ingrown toenails if a child’s parents are predisposed to ingrown toenails.
Ingrown toenails can also be caused by ill-fitting shoes. Children grow so fast that you may not even realize the shoes you just recently purchased are already too small. Small shoes can push the toenail to grow in an irregular fashion so check the fit regularly and look for quality shoes that allow enough space for the toes.
Early symptoms of an ingrown toenail include a child complaining of pain in the toenail region, not wanting to wear shoes or limping.
An ingrown toenail may initially manifest itself as a red swollen patch of skin near the nail border. Blisters, leaking pus or streaks of red around the toenail are tell-tale signs of an infected ingrown toenail.
You can help your child feel more comfortable by having her soak her entire foot in warm, not hot, water for about 20 minutes at a time at least twice a day. You can use plain water or mix a small amount of Epsom salts into the water. Applying anti-bacterial ointment, such as Neosporin, to the affected area with a band-aid is recommended. Medication like acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, may also help your child to feel more comfortable. Keeping the foot out of shoes and socks for a while (or in sandals if shoes are needed) will keep pressure off the area and help decrease the foot pain your child is experiencing.
If the ingrown toenail is not thoroughly lodged into the nail, you can gently clip or file the nail away from the affected area. A small amount of gauze or cotton can be placed under the edge of your child’s ingrown toenail to keep the nail from sticking sharply into the tender skin.
When to see a doctor? If you see signs of an infection, including blisters, leaking pus or streaks of red around the toenail, visit your doctor. Prescription oral antibiotics and topical antibiotics will fight the infection. A minor surgical procedure may be needed if the ingrown toenail is severe. Attempting to treat it on your own may lead to serious complications. If your child has nerve problems, diabetes or circulation issues, let a physician take care of the ingrown toenail to be on