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FAQ - Ingrown Toenail  Answer To Frequently Asked Child Medical Question

Ingrown Toenail

Definition:  If your child has tenderness, redness, and swelling of skin surrounding the corner of the toenail on one of the big toes, he/she may have an ingrown toenail.

Cause:  Ingrown toenails are usually due to tight shoes or improper cutting of the toenails.  It can also be caused by repeated trauma such as what can happen with sports involving running, jumping and kicking.

Expected course:  It may take several weeks to completely clear up an ingrown toenail.  Diligence with care is important in the treatment.

Home Care and Treatment

Soaking:  Soak the foot 2-3 times daily in warm water for 20-30 minutes.  While the foot is soaking, massage outward the swollen part of the cuticle.

Antibiotic ointment:  If your child's cuticle is just red and irritated, you may not need to use antibiotic ointment.  But, if the cuticle is swollen or oozing secretions, apply an antibiotic ointment, such as Polysporin or Triple Antibiotic Ointment 5 or 6 times per day.  You can buy the ointment without a prescription.

Cutting off the corner of Toenail:  The corner of the toenail rubbing against the raw cuticle always causes the pain associated with an ingrown toenail.  Therefore, the doctor may need to cut off the corner so that the irritated tissue can quiet down and heal.  This only needs to be done once.  The main purpose of this treatment is to help the nail grow over the nail cuticle rather than get stuck in it.  Therefore, during soaks, try to bend the corners of the nail upward.

Shoes:  Have your child wear sandals or go barefoot (around the house) as much as possible to prevent pressure on the toenail.  When he/she must wear closed shoes, protect the ingrown toenail from further irritation.  If the inner edge of the toenail is involved, tape cotton or moleskin between the first and second toes to keep them from touching.  If the outer edge is involved, tape cotton or moleskin to the outside edge of the ball of the toe to keep the toenail from touching the side of the shoe.

Prevention:  Prevent recurrences by making sure that your child's shoes are not too narrow or too small in length.  Get rid of any pointed or tight shoes.  After the cuticle is healed, cut the toenails straight across, leaving the corners a bit square beyond where the nail meets the skin.  Don't cut them too short.

Oral antibiotics:  Sometimes ingrown toenails require treatment with oral antibiotics.  Follow these guidelines and call as indicated below so the doctor can make a decision regarding the use of oral antibiotics for your child.

Minor surgery:  Some cases of recurrent ingrown toenails require minor surgical treatment.  This is something to discuss with your child's doctor.

Call the office.....

Immediately if:

Fever or chills occur.A red streak spreads beyond the toe.

During regular office hours if:

The ingrown toenail develops pus or yellow discharge.The problem is not much better in 1 week.The problem is not totally resolved in 2 weeks.You have other concerns or questions.



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