Ingrown Toenail in Infants & Children: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Ingrown Toenail in Children – Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

If your child’s toe looks all red and swollen, it may be because of an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails commonly occur in children. If your child is wearing a pair of tight socks and tight shoes, then he may have ingrown toenails.

In some cases, it is an inherited tendency. Sometimes, an ingrown toenail can cut through the skin and may lead to various infections. Certain home remedies can prove beneficial in fixing the disorder, provided you take action fast.

What is Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail happens when a toenail grows abnormally or when the corner or edge of the toenail starts curving inwards into toe’s soft skin which can trigger pain and infection due to all the bacteria that typically dwells around in and around the feet. The toe may appear red, swollen, and tender particularly around one of its corners, generally the big toe.

Causes of Ingrown Toenail in Children

Some of the causes of ingrown toenails in children include:

1. Cutting Nails Inappropriately

The most common cause of ingrown toenail is trimming nails too short. When a nail is cut too short, the surrounding skin may cover the ends of the nail, as a result, the nail may grow back in the skin. Nails which are torn instead of cut may also become ingrown as they lack defined corners. Further nails that may have been cut in a rounded form than straight across can become a reason for them to break into the soft toe skin.

Cutting nails

2. Ill-fitting Shoes

Tight shoes are another probable cause of an ingrown toenail. If your child’s feet are growing fast and he wears the same old shoes, then he may have an ingrown toenail. A pair of ill-fitting shoes can thrust the soft skin on the corners of the nail to move over the nail, driving the nail to develop into it.

3. Toe Injuries

If your child keeps stubbing his toes frequently, then he may have ingrown toenails. Also, if a baby or toddler loses his toe due to some injury, the new nail may grow unhealthily than a prevailing one.

4. Stress on the Toe

Stressing the toe by kicking a football over and over can even result in ingrown toenails. Children who indulge in plenty of physical sports have higher chances of developing ingrown toenails because of persistent torment to the toes.

5. Heredity

If your child has ingrown toenails without any possible reason, then it may be because of heredity. Some people are born with oddly curved nails which place them at an increased risk of developing this illness often.

Symptoms of Ingrown Toenails

Common symptoms of ingrown toenails are mentioned below.

  • A painful toe
  • Swelling around the affected area
  • Redness around the edge of the nail
  • Pus formation or liquid discharge
  • Foul odour
  • A warm sensation

Home Remedies for Ingrown Toenails

If your child’s toenail is not infected, you can treat it with home remedies. You can try the following remedies for ingrown toenails:

  • Soak your child’s affected foot in warm, soapy water to reduce swelling and pain. Let him immerse his foot in this solution twice a day for about 20 minutes.
  • While the affected foot is in the water, massage the inflamed portion of the cuticle lightly away from the nail.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment on the affected area to provide relief from inflammation and to prevent infection. Do this 2 to 3 times daily for a week.
  • You can dip a cotton bud in olive oil and use it to propel the skin gently away from the ingrown nail.

Applying ointment on baby's toes

Tips to Prevent Ingrown Toenails in Your Child

Some useful tips to help avert the problem of ingrown toenails in children are given below.

  • Check your kid’s toenails from time to time like after baths to be able to detect any signs of an ingrown toenail.
  • Make sure you trim your child’s toenails properly; they should be in straight line and not too short.
  • Ensure that your child wears a pair of shoes that fit him perfectly. Also, take note of the shoe width along with the correct length.
  • Educate your child about how to maintain good foot hygiene. Ask him to keep his feet dry. Changing socks frequently is essential if your kid’s feet are prone to excessive sweating.
  • Refrain from digging out the nail or ripping it out as it can heighten the incidence of ingrown toenails.

When to Consult a Doctor

If you have tried the above remedies but they are not working, it is time to consult a doctor. You may want to consult a paediatrician if your baby has the problem of ingrown toenails. In case your baby has ingrown toenails, look for the following signs:

  • Bleeding
  • Oozing of pus or any discharge
  • Bad smell
  • Extreme pain

Your doctor based on the condition of your child’s foot may propose a minor surgery wherein he may be required to cut off the corner of the affected nail so that the infected tissue can heal easily. The doctor may also suggest a course of antibiotics.


Some frequently asked questions regarding ingrown toenails are given below:

1. How Long Will Ingrown Toenail Last?

It usually depends on the severity of the case. Sometimes, a child may have ingrown toenail for several weeks. However, if there is no visible infection, home remedies may exhibit a significant improvement in the condition within a few days.

2. Will the Ingrown Toenail Come Back?

If you do not take proper care of toddler ingrown toenail, your child may face this problem again. The same stimuli that may have activated an early ingrown toenail can cause the condition to return.

If your child has an ingrown toenail, he must be in excruciating pain. Unfortunately, an ingrown toenail is a common condition in kids and can make playing, running, and even putting on shoes difficult for him. This condition can linger on for weeks and may get infected if not cared for properly.

Also Read:

Bed Bug Bites on Infants and Kids
Home Remedies for Runny Nose in Infants and Children
German Measles in Babies and Children

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Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.