How can you treat your baby's ingrowing toenail?
Ingrowing toenails in children can be painful and become infected, so find out what you can do to help.
I think my baby may have an ingrowing toenail – the skin at the edge of his big toenail is red and he pulls at his sock. What should I do? Can I treat it at home?
Ingrowing toenails can be so painful and sometimes can become infected too – but it’s a common condition that can also heal on its own.
An ingrowing toenail occurs when the outer edge of the nail near the end of the toe grows into the soft skin at the side of the toe. The nail then cuts into the skin causing pain, and in some cases this becomes infected. When this happens it often becomes inflamed, swollen and painful to touch.
The condition can sometimes occur when the nail is not cut correctly and forms a sharp spur. If in doubt about looking after your baby’s nails, ask your health visitor for guidance. Occasionally a problem nail needs to be cut by an expert such as a specialist chiropodist.
If there is an infection, pus may be released spontaneously, but it is always worth getting advice from your general practitioner or health visitor. A local antibiotic cream may help, or perhaps in some cases a short course of antibiotics by mouth. Very occasionally the infection may need to be released by making a small incision.
Although it’s unusual, the infection can spread to the rest of the toe or even the foot, and in rare cases may even cause your baby to be more generally unwell. If this happens you should always seek help immediately.
So while this is usually a simple problem with a simple solution, take care and get advice.
Dr Peter Ilves