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Family Foot & Ankle

Helping Kids Prevent Ingrown Toenails

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Like many foot and ankle conditions, ingrown toenails can happen to almost anyone—male or female, young or old, athlete or couch potato.

However, that doesn’t mean some demographic groups aren’t more susceptible than others. And for a variety of reasons, kids and adolescents tend to be very overrepresented in the number of cases we see.

Now, we’re happy to treat your child’s ingrown toenails—and the truth is that professional treatment is actually quite simple, fast, and mostly painless. We’ll elaborate on that in a minute.

But even with that knowledge, we know that no parent wants to see a child in pain. Even when treatment is easy, prevention is always better.

How to Minimize a Child’s Risk of Ingrown Toenails

One thing you must understand about ingrown toenails is that there isn’t one single cause responsible for all cases. In fact, there’s a variety of different possibilities. So if you want to reduce the risk of your child developing one, your prevention strategy should cover a few different bases.

Fortunately, the steps are pretty simple. Here are the two biggest things to remember:

Provide Your Child with Shoes That Fit Correctly

We don’t have to tell you how fast little feet grow! Shoes that fit just a month or two ago can start feeling cramped very quickly. As a parent, you need to stay on top of your child’s footwear situation if you want to promote healthy foot development—not to mention prevent ingrown toenails.

When shoes get too tight in the toe box region, they press downward on toenails and can cause them to grow into the skin. Definitely not good.

But buying oversized shoes your child can “grow into” isn’t the answer, either. Shoes that are too big slide around a lot, and the nails can bang into the front of the shoe over and over again. (They can cause other problems too, like frequent stumbling or tripping.)

Make sure you’re checking the fit on your child’s shoes at least once a month and replacing them once they get too tight. It’s not unusual for a child to change sizes anywhere from 2-4 times per year. We know it can be a lot, but it’s very necessary!

Trim Their Toenails Correctly … and Teach Them How

You might not realize there’s a “wrong” way to cut toenails, but actually it’s pretty common. And you might not even know you’re doing it!

You should never cut toenails too short, and you should definitely never cut them too rounded in the corners. Instead, cut your child’s nails straight across, with just a teeny bit of visible “white” at the end of the nail.

When you cut nails too short, especially in the corners, it greatly increases the risk that the nail will start to dig into the skin as it grows back out.

Young children may need their nails trimmed every 2 weeks or so to keep them at an appropriate length, but older kids may be able to wait longer. Nails grow at different rates for different people, so just keep an eye on it.

Parents should cut their own child’s nails until the reach the “tweenage” years—about 10-12 or so. Once you’re ready to pass off the responsibility to your child, make sure you teach them exactly how and why you cut them the way you do, and keep checking their feet to make sure they’re keeping up with good trimming habits!

What If My Kid Gets Ingrown Toenails Anyway?

If your child’s ingrown toenail is a “one-off,” you might chalk it up to bad luck. If your child previously suffered a specific toe injury (such as a stub, or dropping something on their toe), that could easily be the reason.

However, there’s one other major cause of ingrown toenails that there’s no real way to defend against: genetics. It could simply be the case that your child was born with particularly curvy nails that are prone to getting stuck and ingrown over and over again.

The good news is that this is not a permanent problem. But it does mean you’ll need to visit our office if you want to keep your child from getting ingrown toenails again and again. (And what parent wouldn’t?)

Effective and Compassionate Ingrown Toenail Care for Kids

An ingrown toenail can be very painful and frustrating for your child, and as a parent it’s natural that you would want to do whatever you could to help them.

Well, the best thing you can do for your child is make an appointment with Family Foot & Ankle Center. Never under any circumstances attempt to cut or dig out your child’s ingrown toenail on your own, as this will likely only lead to more severe pain and even infection.

Ingrown toenail treatment at our office is very simple, and doesn’t even hurt! True, the shot of local anesthetic may sting just a bit for a few moments, but that’s quickly replaced by numbness of the toe. At that point, we can gently remove the ingrown bit of the nail without causing any discomfort for your little one, and by the time sensation returns, they should notice a significant decrease in their pain!

While the toe is numbed, we may also recommend removing the corresponding segment of the nail matrix. Essentially this means that the ingrown part of the toenail can’t grow back again. If your child keeps getting ingrown toenails for genetic reasons, this procedure comes highly recommended and can provide life-long prevention.

We have performed ingrown toenail treatment on kids of all ages—even some who are not yet walking. By and large, they tolerate it just fine! While we understand there may be some fears or occasionally even some tears, we do work hard to make the environment as warm and inviting as possible, and the treatment itself is really not so scary or painful at all.

So don’t be afraid to make the call! We love working with kids, and nothing makes us happier than taking their pain away and helping them return to active, happy lives! Just give us a call today at (513) 728-4800 or complete our online contact form to request an appointment for your little one.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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