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Educational Resources

3 Tips to Prevent Kids’ Ingrown Toenails

It’s back to school season here in Houston. And whether the kids are leaving your house, or taking school online, the change in season means a change in shoes–and a higher risk for ingrown toenails!

We’re guessing that your kids spent most of the summer in sandals. That meant you never had to worry about their toenails hitting the edge of their shoes. So they had less risk for ingrown toenails. kids have a higher risk for ingrown toenails

But now that kids are back in the rest of their shoes, you’ve got to be extra careful with their nail care. If you think your child already has an ingrown toenail, come in right away: we’re ready for you!

As Joan Williams shared after her recent visit, “Dr Amy Walsh and her staff are wonderful! They take time with you to be sure your problem is resolved. Dr Walsh removed an ingrown toenail, I was expecting a sore toe for days, by that night when the anesthetic wore off, I could not remember what toes she did! Amazing!”

While we are always happy to help, we’re also here to help prevent problems. So keep reading as we share the best ways to protect your kids’ from the pain of an ingrown toenail.  But first, let’s do a little explaining about this common nail problem.

What is an ingrown toenail?

An ingrown nail develops when the outer corner of your child’s toenail, begins to grow towards the tender skin around the nail. Usually, this happens on the big toe. If this inward growth continues, the nail will cut your child’s skin. Obviously, this is painful, but the problem is much bigger. When the nail cuts your child’s skin, this makes an opening for bacteria. And, if bacteria gets under your child’s skin, the area can become infected. That’s why we often notice pus developing at the sight of an ingrown toenail.

Ingrown Toenail Symptoms

The first sign of this condition is a nail edge that curves in towards the skin. But you may not notice the change in nail growth, at least not right away. As the nail edge presses into your child’s skin, other symptoms will likely develop. These include:

  • Red skin around the nail bed
  • Swelling around the nail
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Bleeding around the nail
  • Pus or drainage around the nail bed

We know it can be tempting to try an ingrown toenail home treatment. After all, you may think, how hard can it be to trim away the ingrown nail?

Unfortunately, this thinking can be dangerous. Once you notice symptoms, your child’s nail is likely infected. This means two things: if you try an ingrown nail treatment on your own, you’ll probably hurt your son or daughter. Also, since you likely can’t sterilize your tools or your environment, you’re risking a new or worse infection for your child.

So, instead of treating these nail issues on your own, let’s work together to prevent problems from developing.

How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails in Kids 

First of all, be careful when you pick out your kids’ shoes. They need to fit just right (not too big or too small.) Otherwise, kids’ feet will slip around in the shoes and bump against the hard toe edge. Or spend all day shoved against that hard surface. Either way, that constant trauma can change the direction in which their nails grow. Which can increase their risk for ingrown nails.

Need help finding the right fit for your kids’ shoes? Check out our kids’ shoe-shopping guide here. And once you’re sure they’ve got the right gear, let’s talk nail trimming. When you help cut your child’s nails, trim straight across or with a very gentle curve. You may think it’s best to steeply curve their nails at the edges, to match their natural nail shape. But steep trimming actually encourages nails to grow inward.

To help stay in the right shape and depth, stay away from nail scissors. Using nail clippers will help you stick to a straighter line. And, you’re less likely to trim kids’ nails too low: you always want to be sure some white portion of the nail remains after you’re done.

Now, even if you’re careful, your child may still develop an ingrown nail. Some kids are just more prone to this condition. If that’s the case, don’t worry. We can help your child with a nearly painless procedure for ingrown toenails. But you have to come into the office for treatment.

Restoring Proper Nail Growth

Left untreated, ingrown toenails will become more painful. Your child may avoid wearing shoes or even walking. So, at the first sign of a problem, schedule your in-office procedure.

Once we’re with your child in our Spring or Tomball, TX podiatric office, we’ll do everything to make him or her comfortable. We’ll start by numbing the infected area, so the rest of the procedure will be painless.

The numbing process is a little painful, but we talk your child through it. And any discomfort passes quickly. What happens next depends on the severity of your child’s situation. If the nail is still fairly shallow, we can gently trim it so that it stops cutting into your child’s skin.

In more extreme cases, we will have to cut all the way down to the cuticle, in which case we’ll provide you with follow up care tips to keep the area clean and guarantee proper healing.

But our goal is always the same: we want to make sure your child can walk and run without pain. With you as our partner, we can do just that. So bring your son or daughter into the office at the first sign of a nail problem, so we can provide minimally invasive pain relief!